Skip to main content

Full text of "Ireland a nation"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 













. • - * - 



"tn Paris our statesmen kave dealt tmth 
raeial problems, like thai of Ireland, and 
in every way as dificult as the Irish problem. 
They may not shrink from applying to 
Ireland the same medicine thai they have 
applied to Bohemia and many another part 
of Europe." 

Gbniral SMun 



r . • 

• _ • 


de tetai * 





Mt mak Sharp, 

May I dedicate diis book to jfou, 
even tliouc^ I feel sure yoa will dis- 
agree with mudi diat it contains? I 
do to mainly in friendship, but also 
partly because it seems fitting to ad- 
dress this cold-blooded appeal to rea- 
son on behalf of Irish nationality to 
one who, like yourself, is brilliantly 
free from all appearance of sentimen- 
tality* snd audaciously reasonable. 

I am, yours eyer, 

Sijf Imlf 1919 




L Why It Is Imfobtant to BKAiiTm th4t 

Ibbland Is a Nation . . . • 1 

n. Thb Historical Thread: How IbBiAmd 

HxiiPSD TO CiVILIZB EniKXV ... 17 

HI. Thb Historical Thread : A Nation Under 

OnbEino 26 

IV. The Historical Thread: The New Irish 

Nation 36 

V. The Historical Thread: The Worst Cen- 
tury OF All 49 

VI. Sinn Fein 58 

YII. The Insurrection of 1916 .... 69 

Vin. Ulster: The Facts of the Case . 86 

IX. The Hesitating Sobt of Ltkrrati and 

Irish Selp^etermination ... 93 

X. One Man's Views on Dominion Hove 

Rule 117 

XI. The Irish Soldier 127 

XIL IrezaANd's Record in THE War . . 136 

XIIL The S(XJ>iERs' Sacrdiob . • . . 145 



XIV. The English in Ireland : A Scene . . 154 

XY* Another Soens : The Drums of Ulster 163 

XVI. The Witness op the Poets . . . 176 

XVn. A Note on Irish Literature . . . 187 

Xvin. Voices of the New Ireland: 

(1) P. H. Pearsb and His Writings 218 

[. Voices of the New Ireland: 

(2) Mrs. J. B. Green .... 228 

Voices of the New Ireland: 

(3) A. E 237 

Voices of the New Ireland: 

(4) T. M. Kettle 257 

Voices of the New Ireland: 

(5) Dora Sigerson . . . . .268 

XXTII. Common-sense About the Littlb 

Nations 276 

XXIV. Bpilogub 285 





Thb WngBah attitude to Irdaiid is somewkat 
paradoxieaL WngHstnneii can haidlj be said to 
dislike the Iridi peraQnaDy. Qn the ivhole, I 
thinky they like them better than tiiey like most 
foreigners. They like them, bowever, as a hofidi^ 
people rather than as a serious people. Evenflie 
most fanatical Irishman idio, wiQioat the faintest 
gleam of hmnonr in his composition, gives his life 
for a passionate ideal, is exfdained away as a 
person wifli a hilarious love of fitting for its own 
sake. In tiie early days of the war Punch had a 
drawing of an Irishman to whom someone says: 
"This is a terrible war, Pat" "Yes, sorr," 
replies the Irishman, " 'tis a terrible war; bat, 
sore, 'tis better than no war at alL" I do not 
think it is unfair to suggest that this joke vividly 
represents a common EngHsb view of the Irish 
diaracter. Set out with fbe idea that the Irish- 
man is an irresponsible ereatore, and yon do not 


need to take anything he says or does quite seri- 
ously. If he says he wants a republic, one does 
not need to consider his demand, for he obviously 
does not mean it. If he gives his life in the armies 
of the Allies, it is not because he is a soldier of 
freedom, but because he is always spoiling for 
a fight. If he gives his life on the Republican side, 
well, boys will be boys. If the Irish had not the 
Germans or the English to fight, we are told, they 
would fight each other. Is not Ireland the nation 
of the shillelagh— that knotted bludgeon which is 
never seen in Ireland except in the windows of 
shops that cater for the tastes of tourists! How 
is it possible to regard Paddy with the shillelagh 
as a potential Abraham Lincoln — ^a statesman 
with a constructive mind, tolerant, prudent, and 
endowed with the civic and commercial virtues? 
All such a happy-go-lucky creature needs is to be 
ruled with a firm hand. He is like a high-spirited 
animal that only becomes naughty if ridden with 
a loose rein. What he requires is firm and expert 
horsemanship. The whole theory of English gov- 
ernment in Ireland, so far as it has a theory, de- 
pends upon the belief that the Irishman is a fine 
specimen of animal, but not a fine specimen of 

There could be no more fatal belief than this in 
politics. If persisted in, it will bring ruin not only 
on Ireland but on England, and on our European 
civilization generally. If Ireland is not taken 


seriously and given her freedom equally with 
every other nation in Europe, another great 
world-war is as certain as the rising of to-mor- 
row's sun. This may at first sight seem a ridicu- 
lous statement; and it would, I agree, be ridicu- 
lous to pretend that the Great Powers will ever 
deliberately make war for the sake of freeing 
Ireland. If one recalls the inmiediate origins of 
the war of 1914, however, one will see how easily 
the seeds of war grow in little oppressed coun- 
tries. The last war had many causes, but the im- 
mediate cause that precipitated it was an accident 
to an archduke in the little Bosnian town of 
Serajevo — a town about one-tenth the size of 
Dublin. Another of the immediate causes of the 
war was certain happenings in the Irish cities of 
Belfast and of Dublin itself. Had Sir Edward 
Carson, with the aid of the English Tory Party, 
not been conspiring to destroy the liberties of Ire- 
land by arms, Germany would not have been 
deceived as to the part England would play in 
the war, and it is possible the Kaiser might have 
held his hand— held it, perhaps, long enough to 
enable democracy to defeat militarism in Ger- 
many, and so prevent the bloody disaster of war 
altogether. The evidence for the part played by 
the conspiracy against freedom in Bosnia and 
Ireland is not the evidence of political partisans. 
It is known to everybody. It is to be found in the 
writings of Mr. Gerard, the American Ambassa- 


dor, and many others who can speak with author- 
ity. Sir Edward Carson has denied indignantly 
that Baron von Kiihhnann was over in Ulster as 
the guest qf the Unionists on the eve of the war. 
What everyone knows is that responsible Ger- 
mans were sent to spy out the land in Ulster at 
that time, and that the services of a German were 
i^de use of in drilling Sir Edward Carson's Vol- 
unteers. TVhat one also knows is that the Car- 
sonite arms were got from Germany, and it is 
reasonable to suppose, remembering the German 
genius for espionage, that they did not leave that 
country without the connivance of the German 
Government. One also knows that, when Sir Ed- 
ward was in Germany not long before the out- 
break of the war, the Kaiser had him to lunch 
with him. When Sir Edward was accused in the 
House of Commons of having dined with the 
Kaiser, he said it was an infamous falsehood. 
True, he did not dine; he only lunched. That 
makes an immense difference. Now, I am not go- 
ing to pretend that Sir Edward Carson was ever 
a pro-German, though Mr. Bedmond would have 
been denounced as one on a hundredth part of the 
evidence. I am recalling those things, not as 
proofs of Sir Edward Carson's interest in Ger- 
many, but of Germany's interest in Sir Edward 
Carson. Sir Edward's conspiracy against the 
Irish nation gave Germany yet another seemingly 
valid reason for declaring war. If Ireland had 


been free, Germany's reasons for declaring war 
would have been by so mnch the weaker. I wonder 
if even Mr. Bonar Law would have raised a finger 
to oppose Irish freedom if he had known that by 
so doing he was helping to doom millions of young 
men to death and torture beyond telling, and 
scores of thousands of women and children to pain 
and fear and starvation, and massacre by land, sea 
and air. 

And yet every statesman— nay, more, every 
citizen— who assists or even acquiesces in the per- 
petuation of one of those seed-beds of war, the 
oppression of small nations, is dooming his chil- 
dren's children to horrors of war still more appal- 
ling than those through which the world has just 
passed. The next war, as Mr. Masterman has 
said, will not be a warning; it will be the end. The 
late war was a mere initial experiment in aerial 
warfare and in the use of deadly poisons. The 
next great war will be a universal murder of 
civilians, and attempts will be made to blot out 
great cities in a night. There will be no use in 
raising a cry of * * Baby-killers. " * ' Baby-killing' ' 
has now become a feature of war which no nation 
will forego. Now, if there were any great moral 
end to be gained by bringing on such a war, with 
its attendant horrors, we might well set our jaws 
and look forward to it with what equanimity we 
could. But everyone knows that there is no moral 
end to be gained— at any rate, that there would 


not be if ^very nation agreed to the equal freedom 
of all other nations^ and abandoned its passion 
for predominance. Wars are caused by imperial 
greed, not by the love of equality. In the world 
before the war, Germany, England, France, Italy 
and Austria were all consumed by a passion for 
dominating other countries which they had no 
right to dominate. Their political ideals were 
ideals of power rather than of justice. Germany 
desired a place in the sun, failing to realize that 
each country is its own place in the sun. England 
already possessed many places in the sun, and 
even justified her possession of them on altruistic 
grounds. All the nations of Europe, indeed, that 
were able to do it, pursued a course of imperialist 
rivalry, not of international justice. None was 
content to rule its own household. Each of them 
went out into the world, as unscrupulous as a rob- 
ber baron. The greatness of a nation was judged 
by its capacity for stealing large portions of the 
earth's surface. The monomania of plunder that 
came to a head in the Europe of the nineteenth 
century will surely, when the world becomes civi- 
lized, be looked back on as the most disastrous 
form of madness that has ever afflicted human 
society. The passions of the European nations 
can only be compared to the passions of a primi- 
tive mining camp, where the love of gold leads 
inevitably to envy, hatred and murder. Europe 
was a lawless society of law-abiding nations. 


f I 




Each of the nations had to some extent subdued 
il the personal egoism of its citizens and kept it in 
Ij check by a syst^n of law and order. But there 
J was no check of law and order on national egoism. 
There was no check except f ear, and every nation 
prepared against the day when greed would be- 
come stronger than fear, and fighting would break 
out again. It was taken for granted that there 
would be fighting. What is there to do but fight 
when every country belietes that it has a right to 
everything it can gain by fighting? We private 
[ citizens would fight and Jtill for wealth and power 
in the same way if we had not, for the sake of 
peace, devised a system of law to protect our- 
selves from each other's egoism. I do not wish to 
imply that man would live entirely without moral 
considerations were it not for the law, or that 
nations live entirely without moral considerations 
in their present lawless state. All I contend is 
that, without a law expressing the spirit of jus- 
tice, we should be unjust, quarrelsome, pugnacious 
and bloody to a degree to which we do not now 
dare to be. In so far as we have accepted the law, 
we have abandoned egoism to become social and 
civic beings. There is no reason for doubting that 
the nations' also can become sodal and dvic be- 
ings. If they cannot, Europe is destined to com- 
mit suicide in the next great war. 

It is all the more appalling to find the statesmen 
of Ehirope still thinking in terms of empires in- 


stead of nations. The defeated empires have had 
to abandon their egoism — ^at least they have had 
to abandon the effective part of their egoism. Bat 
the egoism of the victorious empires, instead of 
diminishing, has grown. They have formed what 
is nominally a League of Nations, but what is 
really in great measure a League of Empire^, by 
which each seems to be guaranteed in the posses- 
sion of its most ill-gotten gains. Each of them 
claims the right to absolute rule within the terri- 
tories it seized in previous wars. Not one of 
/ them outside America has performed a single act 
of self-renunciation, the example of which alone 
could begin the reign of justice among peoples. 
They have made Germany disgorge, but which of 
themselves has disgorged? And yet, until every 
empire voluntarily sets free its subject peoples, 
the first day of the new civilization cannot arrive. 
England, unfortunately, has taken the lead in up- 
holding the old system. Her statesmen vehe- 
mently declare that neither the League of Nations 
nor America shall be allowed to interfere in order 
to liberate Ireland — that Ireland is an internal 
English question— Ireland, which is less English 
than Alsace-Lorraine is German I In private life, 
anyone suffering from internal trouble is usually 
only too glad of outside assistance to get rid of it. 
England, however, is almost proud of her internal 
trouble. She cries, * * Hands off ! " angrily to those 
who would heal her. And the worst of it is, this 


disease of hers is infections. It is the terrible dis- 
ease of possessiveness. Every nation on the earth 
that desires to do wrong to another takes fresh 
heart when it thinks of the example of England in 
Ireland. Bnssians nsed it as an excnse for deny- 
ing liberty to Poland. The Germans used it as an 
argument for their own imperial crimes. Even 
Eang Leopold of Belgium, when he was accused 
of committing atrocities in the Congo, retorted 
with an^ allusion to Ireland. Dui'ing the Peace 
Conference the Italians used the presence of Eng- 
land in Ireland as an argument for the annexation 
of Dalmatia by themselves. Few Englishmen are 
aware, I fancy, of the force for evil that the Eng- 
lish conquest of Ireland has been in international 
politics. England has given lessons of liberty to 
the world as splendid as any other nation in his- 
tory. She has been one of the great democratic 
educators of mankind. In Ireland, on the other 
hand, she has given the world a lesson in the 
denial of liberty. Whether she will ultimately 
help to teach the world liberty or oppression it 
remains for the present generation of Englishmen 
more than any other to decide. The world wiU 
eagerly learn either lesson. It would not be too 
much to say that the world is likely to be more 
profoundly influenced for good or evil by Eng- 
land's treatment of Ireland than by any other 
empire's treatment of any other subject nation. 
England has by her natural genius become a 


leader among the nations. Will she lead the world 
into good or into evilt , 

The Allies, according to most of their spokes- 
men, went to war in order to establish certain 
principles of freedom and justice in international 
affairs. We were to have a new world in which 
the independence of the little nations was to be 
guarded as jealously as that of the greatest. The 
rescue of Belgium from the grip of Germany 
was to be but the first act in the great drama of 
the liberation of mankind. The British people 
acquiesced when Mr. Asquith promised them such 
a war of liberation. The whole body of the Allies 
acquiesced when President Wilson asserted that 
the war had for one of its objects the securing to 
every nation of the right to choose its own rulers. 
The ordinary man began to wonder whether he 
was still on the earth, or whether he had got lost in 
heaven, as he read the noble sentiments of Allied 
statesmen and pamphleteers. Cynics reminded 
him that it was not the first time a war-wearied 
world had dreamed of establishing perpetual 
peace on a basis of international justice. He did 
not listen to the cynics, however. He told himself 
that dynasts and diplomats had settled the peace 
after previous wars. The democracies were going 
to take the matter in hand this time. Democra- 
cies would clearly be free from the old dynastic 
ambitions. They would insist on setting up a 
democracy of nations, in which every nation would 


have an equal right of self -govemment with the 
rest. They might not be able to establish a United 
States of the world, but they would at least estab- 
lish a harmony of nations in which every nation 
wotdd be equally sovereign within its own bor- 
ders. Nations would, it was hoped, be willing to 
resign a certain portion of their sovereignty into 
the hands of the League of Nations, but the inde- 
pendence of one nation would not be limited to a 
greater extent than the sovereignty of another. 
Clearly, mankind could abolish war in a year — at 
least, as far as the civilized world is conoemedr— if 
it were accepted that all nations had an equal 
right to liberty. Questions of the aspirations of 
border minorities might still arise, but these could 
be referred constitutionally at intervals to the 
League of Nations, which could guarantee the 
right of an oppressed minority to secede. The 
international parliament might thus do as much 
for the freedom and progress of mankind as a 
national parliament has done for the freedom and 
progress of England. It was evident, however, 
that if any of the great empires began to daim 
special privileges for continuing the old greeds 
and oppressions, all the other empires would daim 
the same privileges. 'The League of Nations could 
only be buUt on the universal will to renounce the 
right to oppress (or, if you prefer the word, to 
suppress) other nations. The League of Nations, 
as Mr. H. G. Wells said, must supersede empire 


or it would be meaningless. The world could have 
peace, but only at a price. The question to be 
answered was whether any nation was willing to 
pay that price. Was Bussia willing to take her 
hands off the throat of Poland? Was Prussia 
willing to give up Alsace f Was Italy willing to 
renounce her ambitions on the east coast of the 
Adriatic? Was England willing to set Ireland 
free? Alas, it was discovered at the Peace Con- 
ference that every one of the victorious nations, 
except America, so far from being in a mood for 
renunciation, was more determined than could 
have been foreseen to keep its grip on every 
square inch of territory into which it could fix its 
talons. Every democracy was betrayed by its 
leaders as completely as it had ever been betrayed 
by its dynasts. If a roomful of criminals had 
gathered together deliberately to concoct a plan 
for another world war within the next century, 
they could hardly have acted differently from the 
stupid and short-sighted statesmen who had the 
destiny of the world in their keeping at Versailles. 
This is not a rhetorical exaggeration. It is a 
lamentably simple fact. The new world order was 
not begun, because no statesman had the courage 
to call on his nation to live in the spirit of the new 
world order. England could not in decency ask 
France and Italy to curb their greed, as she her- 
^self was not willing to renounce a single acre of 
iftier vast empire. Fortunately, however, the 


Leagae of Nations has at least been bom. If it 
grows to maturity, the world may yet be saved. 
But it is a sickly, anfiemic child, and it can only be 
nursed into manhood if its parents cease their 
selfish, orgiastic brawls over its cradle and take 
to behaving with conamon sense, common decency 
and common kindness. We shall surely be behav- 
ing like the most heartless blackguards if we neg- 
lect anything that can save the life of the great 
hope of mankind. Probably, however, the miseries 
of the world are due at least as much to want of 
imagination as to blackguardism. That is why 
statesmen should be afraid above all of behaving 
unimaginatively. Yet what could be more un- 
imaginative than to fail to realize that the life of 
a subject nation is a life of spiritual torture — that 
the passion for freedom is not a passion for evil, 
but is one of the noblest passions which have ever 
found a home in the hearts of men! To outrage 
this passion is to introduce a poison into the life 
of the world. It is the attempted murder of a soul. 
Crimes of a certain kind were followed in the 
Greek tragedy by the coming of the Furies. The 
crime of destroying a nation's freedom to live 
its own life will always as surely be followed 
by the coming of the Furies of war upon the 
great empires. The last war was not merely 
the punishment of the guilt of Qermany, but 
was the punishment of the guilt of imperialism. 
While you have imperialism you will have 


wars. The only way to end war is to end 

If this is sOy it can hardly be disputed that the 
greatest contribution England could make to the 
establishment of a new world-order would be 
the immediate surrender of Ireland into the hands 
of the Irish people, to rule it either as a republic 
or a dominion, according as the people themselves 
decide. Some nation has to begin-some time, and 
England may well claim the privilege of being the 
world ^s first liberator. There is no moral argu- 
ment in favour of granting Ireland Dominion 
Home Bule which does not tell with equal strength 
in favour of an Irish Bepublic, should the Irish 
people prefer that form of government. England 
is in Ireland not as a matter of right, but as a mat- 
ter of power. She has no more * * right ' ' in Ireland 
than she has in France. France is strategically 
more important to her, and is nearer her shores ; 
France has also a Protestant minority, which was 
treated more harshly on various occasions than 
the Protestant minority was ever treated in Ire- 
land. England has exactly the same right in 
Ireland that Turkey had in Serbia— the right of 
long centuries of conquest. She has even less 
right than Germany had in Belgium; for if the 
philosophy of imperialism and strategic frontiers 
is a true philosophy, Germany's criminal attack 
on Belgium was not only intelligible, but justified. 
From a nationalist point of view, Germany's in- 


vasion of Belgiiuu was a crime. From an impe- 
rialist point of vieWy there was no moral objection 
to it. 

Briefly, then, my argoment is that England can 
save herself and save the world only by saving 
Ireland. She has to choose between teaching the 
world freedom and teaching the world imperial- 
ism. And noyr that the people of Asia are wak- 
ing, woe be to her if she teaches the world 
imperialism. Asia is learning many things from 
Europe. If we teach her imperialism, the ** yel- 
low peril*' will become more than a sensation- 
monger's nightmare. Imperialism, I know, is in 
some form or other a universal vice of human 
nature. It remained for Europe, however, to 
idealize it as a part of the higher morality. We 
cannot continue to do so without debasing the 
moral currency of the world. We may even be 
preparing the overthrow of Europe and its civi- 
lization by persisting in governing some tiny 
minority of people against its will. ** A bacterium 
that may kill you or me,'' says Mr. Wells, **in 
some novel and disgusting way may even now be 
developing in some Congo muck heap." The bac- 
terium of world war may similarly be developing 
in somq negligible little nation for which nobody 
but its own children cares a button. It is all- 
important that the body of Europe should be 
cleansed of such bacteria. But we can only do this 
by facing the facts and by making the European 


nations a brotherhood of free peoples. The de- 
struction of the bacteria of war is as simple a 
matter as the destruction of the bacteria of sleep- 
ing sickness. Statesmanship would not need to be 
moral) it would only need to be scientific, to accom- 
plish this. The scientific statesman would sweep 
away the causes of the disease of war by strength- 
ening the forces that make for the health of 
nations. And the greatest of these is freedom 
(which includes the love of freedom). A wise 
Englishman would not only not hesitate to grant 
freedom to Ireland; he would thrust freedom 
upon her with both hands for the sake, of the 
future of his own country and of mankind. 





It is more than ever worth while at the present 
moment to try to understand the background of 
history against which Jhe Irish people see them- 
selves as the members of a distinct nation. One 
need not go back to the prehistoric days before 
the coming of the Gaels, nor need one consider 
whether the Oaels were really the descendants of 
OadeliuSy who married Scota, the daughter of 
Pharaoh, and, as a result of taking the side of the 
oppressed Hebrews, was compelled to fly from 
Egypt. It is hardly necessary even to consider 
whether the Oaels were Celts or, as many recent 
students believe, members of the same Nordic or 
Teutonic race from which the English come. Ac- 
cording to the annalists, they arrived in Ireland 
as conquerors in the year 1700 B.C. The date is 
of little account. What is most important to em- 
phasize is that during many centuries of Gaelic 
rule Ireland was a nation with one code of laws, 
one language, and one High-King (who, however, 
at several periods shared the throne with a joint 



Even before her conversion to Christianity in 
the fifth century Ireland seems to have had fre- 
quent intercourse with Europe as well as with 
Great Britain. King Niall of the Nine Hostages 
was slain on the coast of the English Channel 
while invading Britain in A,D. 405, and, twenty- 
three years later, his nephew, King Dathi, was 
killed by lightning in Gaul, near the Alps, having 
(according to the theory of Professor Bury) gone 
thither at the head of his troops to aid the Bo- 
mans against the Franks. And there is evidence 
that in those days Ireland traded freely with other 
countries as well as made war on them. It was 
not, however, till St. Patrick (who in his boyhood 
had been brought as a slave to Ireland) came back 
to the country in 432 as a missionary and Chris- 
tianized it that Ireland became one of the con- 
spicuous nations of Europe* Irish intercourse 
with Europe seems in early times to have been 
direct rather than by way of England. During the 
sixth and succeeding centuries there was scarcely 
a comer of the known world to which Irishmen did 
not penetrate, taking with them religion and 
learning and the arts* Ireland became a land of 
schools, lay and monastic. Her schools and schol- 
ars were celebrated throughout Europe. She has 
been described as ^^the most learned country in 
Europe '* at this period.^^Foreigners flocked to her 
as to a university. We hear of Germans, Gauls, 
Romans, Britons and even Egyptians coming to 


her for their * * higher edacation. ' ' English princes 
were educated at her schools, and Dagobert 11, 
King of the Franks, went as a student to Ireland. 
At the same time Irishmen founded monasteries 
and schools in every part of Europe and even in 
Carthage. One Irishman, St. Gall, a famous 
hermit and church founder of the seventh century, 
has had one of the cantons of Switzerland called 
after him. Another Irishman, Virgilius — O'Par- 
rell Latinized— became Bishop of Salzburg in the 
eighth century, and made a reputation by teaching 
that the world was round and that people lived at 
the Antipodes. It was to an Irish scholar, Dungal, 
as the greatest astronomer of the time, that 
Charlemagne appealed to explam the alleged oc- 
currence of two solar eclipses in the year 810. 
And the list of the Irish *' makers of Europe*' in 
those centuries includes many other famous 
names, perhaps the most famous of all being that 
of Johannes Scotus Erigena, the most remarkable 
scholar and philosopher of the ninth century, who 
taught at the Court of Charles the Bald. The 
Irish schools seem to have kept alive Greek learn- 
ing when it had perished throughout the west of 
Europe. It has been said that at the time of 
Charles the Bald it was scarcely possible to find 
anyone who spoke Greek on the Continent except 
an Irishman or one who had been taught by an 
Irishman. The memorable Irish conquests were 
the conquests of religion and learning, not of war- 


fare. They axe associated with the names, not of 
battle sites, bat of the monastic foundations of 
Lnxenil, St. Gall and Bobbio, of lona, Lindisf ame 
and Malmesbnry. 

Many historians write as though the significant 
fact in early Irish history were not the great mis- 
sion to Britain and the Continent — a mission 
whidi incidentally helped to mould the civilization 
of England and France, to name no other coun- 
tries — ^but the recurring unrest of the provincial 
kings and the failure of the High-Kings to form a 
strong central government. It is absurd, how- 
ever, to be horror-stricken upon finding in Ireland 
what is taken for granted in the history of France, 
England and Italy. Ireland, like other countries, 
suffered much from disorder, but she was orderly 
enough to build up a remarkable • and distinctive 
civilization, which pervaded the whole country 
from north to south, and which has left its traces 
to the present day in a fine imaginative literature, 
and in beautiful artistic workmanship in illumi- 
nated manuscrips, in gold and in enamel. That it 
must in some respects have been a luxurious dvi- 
lization is suggested by the constant references to 
gold ornaments in the old literature and indeed by 
the fact that, while the weight of the gold orna- 
ments in the British Museum collected from Great 
Britain is about 50 ounces, the weight of a similar 
Irish collection in the National Museum in Dublin 
is about 570 ounces. It is now impossible to say 


along wliat lines this most promising Irish civi- 
lization would have developed if it had not been 
interfered with by invaders, first from Scandina- 
via and then from England of the Normans. But 
the Book of Kells, the Ardagh Chalice, the Cross 
of Cong, the Tara Brooch, and the prose romances 
of Finn and Cuchullain suggest the beginnings of 
a richly imaginative national life — ^a national life 
which, for some reason or other, has nbt been able 
to express itself fully and satisfactorily for the 
better part of a thousand years. 

For good or for ill, Ireland had not shared the 
fate of Britain in being subjected, first, to the 
Bon[ian Empire, and afterwards to tl^e invading 
Angles and Saxons. Tacitus tells us that Agri- 
cola contemplated the subjugation of Ireland be- 
cause he thought it would finally crush the spirit 
of the Britons to see ^^ every spark of liberty ex- 
tinguished round their coast." But Ireland re- 
mained free from foreign rule for seven centuries 
longer. And Norsemen and Danes, though they 
established themselves in many parts of Ireland 
between the end of the eighth and the beginning 
of the eleventh centuries, never conquered the 
country as a whole to the point of putting a 
Danish High-King on the throne. Their record 
in Ireland, though they were apparently the first 
town-builders, is one of destruction and cruelty. 
They plundered and ravished Armagh a score of 
times, and almost every famous religious centre 


in Ireland— Glendalough, Clonard and Clonmac- 
noise — ^was at one time or another sacked by them, 
the people slaughtered or enslaved, the gold omar 
ments stolen, and the books (precious as a king's 
ransom) bnmed or ^ ^ drowned. " It is an astonish- 
ing thing that, in spite of two centuries of glutton- 
ous plunder, so much of the old art and literature 
and learning of the country survived. Even dur- 
ing the greatest agonies of the Danish invasions, 
Irish saints and scholars continued to labour in 
tiie schools and to send forth learned missionaries 
able to Christianize anybody in Europe except the 
enemies of Ireland. It was Brian Boru who 
jBnally released Ireland from the Danish horror 
by his great victory over the foreigners at Clon- 
jl tarf on the 23rd of April, 1014. As a youth, he 
had found the submission of Irishmen to the 
Danes intolerable, and when his elder brother, the 
of Munster, entered into a truce with them, 
refused to recognize it, ''for," he said, 
** however small the injury he might be able to do 
the foreigners, be preferred it to peace'' — a sen- 
tence prophetic of the attitude of many Irishmen 
in later ages. An ambitious as well as a patriotic 
man, he aimed at and achieved the supreme power 
in Ireland, and he gave the country a long spell 
of peace, during whidi he repaired a multitude of 
churches and monasteries and made roads and 
bridges, and sent learned men over the sea to pur- 
chase books to take the place of those which had 


been destroyed by the Danes. This was one of the 
golden periods of Irish history. It was a national 
disaster that there was no one with the same 
genius for government to succeed Brian when, at 
the age of seventy-three, he was slain in the hour 
of victory at the battle of Clontarf . 

After the defeat of the Danes, who had swept 
down npon Ireland from all quarters in a last 
desperate challenge, came a century and a half of 
national revival. It was during this time that 
many of the famous churches of Ireland, such as 
those of Cashel and Cdng, were built. Histo- 
rians wrote of the Danish wars. Men of letters 
wrote down the heroic tales in the form in which 
we now possess them. Scholars made transla- 
tions from Latin into Irish. The school of Ar- 
magh was exalted into something like a national 
tmiversity, at which every lector in an Irish 
church was compelled to graduate. This was 
what is called a ^'time of transition." Ireland 
was faced by serious problems of government. 
She had to discover a more stable order than was 
compatible with a system of ambitious provincial 
kings and a more or less elective monarchy. She 
suffered, like eighteenth-century Poland, from too 
much individualism, though even in the eleventh 
century she had strong High-Kings like Turlough 
O'Brien, whom Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, addressed as ^^magnificent King of Hiber- 
nia," adding that the Almighty had shown great 


kindness to Ireland ^^when He gave your Excel* 
leney supreme power over that land.'* The weak- 
ness of the Irish monarchical system, however, to- 
gether with much civil strife and certain troubles 
in the church, gave Henry H an opportunity of 
effecting a conquest such as the Bomans had not 
essayed and the Danes had not succeeded in. Ac- 
cordingly, in 1154, he obtained a Bull from Pope 
Adrian IV— who, incidentally, was an English- 
man — ^giving him permission to go on a sort of 
crusade into Ireland and ^ ^ subject the people to 
laws." It is one of the ironies of history that, 
though the Orangeman's motto is '^To Hell with 
the Pope," it is the Pope who, in the Middle Ages, 
as in the more recent days of the land war, has 
again and again been one of the chief bulwarks of 
'British rule in Ireland. As Father M. H. Mao- 
Inerney says in a remarkable book, A History of 
the Irish Dominicans: 

*^Prom the time of Adrian IV onward it became 
the traditional policy of the Popes to foster the 
power of England for political reasons of their 
own. They wanted the support of England in 
their contest with the German emperors, in their 
difficulties with French kings, in the affair of 
Sicily, and particularly in the Crusades. The 
Popes apparently desired to see the British Isles 
consolidated into a single kingdom, under the 
strong rule of the English King. Hence their tra- 




ditional partiality for th^ English monarch, and 
their nnfriendliness to Irish and Scottish inde- 

The Normans were too bnsily occupied in vari- 
ons wars, however, to take immediate advantage 
of Adrian's Bnll, and when they ultimately did 
begin to cross to Ireland in the invasions of 1168, 
1169 and 1171, it was not upon a crusade, but in 
answer to an appeal for help from Dermot Mac- 
Murrogh, a dispossessed King of Leinster. Had 
Henry U permitted Strongbow to conquer Ireland 
at this time, and to become the first Norman King 
of Ireland, then Ireland might have gained as 
much as England from Norman law and order. 
But he was too jealous to allow this, and the Irish, 
instead of becoming the subjects of a residential 
Nonilan Eong (whom they might ultimately have 
nationalized), were treated as the enemies of an 
absentee Norman King (whom, in the circum- 
stances, it was in^possible to nationalize). There, 
in a sentence, you have the difference between the 
Norman conquest of England and the Anglo- 
Norman conquest of Ireland. Norman govern- 
ment in England became a national institution. 
Anglo-Norman government in Ireland never for a 
I moment ceased to be an anti-national institution. 
That is one of the keys to the understanding of 
Irish history. 




" W3B[AT I Was there ever any general King of all 
Irelaiidf I never heard it before,'* exclaims one 
of the speakers in Edmund Spenser's famous 
dialogue about the state of Ireland in the time of 
Elizabeth. It was the work of Henry II and his ' 
successors to smash beyond repair so much of 
national unity as was symbolized by the High- 
Kingship, and to foment disunion among the Irish 
princes. English policy in Ireland during this 
period was admirably summed up by a Bishop of 
Waterford who, on being asked by King Edward 
I why certain contentions between Irish chief- 
tains were not suppressed, replied that **in policy 
he thought it expedient to wink at one knave cut- 
ting off another, and that would save the King's 
coffers and purchase peace to the land; whereat 
the King smiled and bid him return to Ireland." 
It would probably have done Ireland little harm 
to be invaded and conquered. It did her infinite 
harm to have a conqueror who, so far from ulti- 
mately identifying himself with the inhabitants of 
the country, maintained his position by setting 
them at each other's throats. And it was not only 




the original Irish who were a prey to these divi- 
sions. The English invaders were eqnally turbu- 
lent after the mediasval fashion. They fought 
among each other like cats or Greek cities. Nor 
were they allowed to settle down on terms of 
friendship with the Irish. Immediately they 
showed signs of doing so, a law was passed thun- 
dering penalties against conduct so ^^degene- 
rate.'' Thus English rule came to Ireland not as 
an aid, but as a hindrance to the development of 
a modem civilization. Lecky put the case in a 
few words : 


''Like a spear-point embedded in a living body, 
it inflamed all around it and deranged every vital 
function. It prevented the gradual reduction of 
the island by some native Govis, which would 
necessarily have taken place if the Anglo-Normans 
had not arrived, and, instead of that peaceful and 
almost silent amalgamation of races, customs, 
laws, and languages which took place in England, 
and which is the source of many of the best ele- 
ments in English life and character, the two na- 
tions remained in Ireland for centuries in hos- 

This does not mean, however, that the Irish 

were not able again and again to raUy in an at- 
tempt to recover their lands and liberties. They 
called in Edward Bruce, the brother of Robert 


Bruce, and crowned him King Edward I of Ire- 
land in 1316, in spite of the Pope's threat to 
excommunicate all who sided with him. Under 
Bruce, they defeated the Anglo-Normans in more 
than one battle in the following two years, at the 
end of which, owing to his folly and impatience, 
he was overwhelmed, and his head cut off and/ 
salted and sent to the English King. 
,In the Middle Ages and up till the time of 
Elizabeth, Cromwell and William III, Irishmen 
made many attempts to reassert their liberties. 
One pictures Ireland as a nation continually 
struggling to her feet and continually bludgeoned 
into impotence again. England issued edict after 
edict against her laws, her customs, her language, 
her education and her trade, but in all these mat- 
ters Ireland almost held her own until the coming 
of the Tudors. Bichard IE, when he was a candi- 
date for the Holy Boman Empire, was jeered at 
because he could not even subdue Ireland at his 
doors. He made two attempts to do so, and, while 
he was absent in Ireland, he lost the English 
throne. English law, soon after, was powerless 
thirty miles outside Dublin. Irish traders were 
meanwhile sending their wares to all the ports of 
Europe, and Irish scholars seeking learning at aU 
the universities. English colonists were forbid- 
den to trade with Irishmen, but the prohibition 
was a dead letter. Irishmen desiring education 
were forbidden by a law of Henry IV 's time to 


go to "the schools of Oxford, Cambridge, or else- 
where,'* but this law, too, failed in its object. The 
Irish instinct for — in a modem phrase — complete 
J national self-expression was too powerful to be 
restrained by edicts. Perhaps the most remark- 
able triumph of the national spirit during the 
mediaeval period was the Irishing of the English 
settlers. De Burgho began to call himself Mac- 
TVilliam, Bermingham to call himself MacFerris, 
De Exeter MacJordan, Nangle MacCostelloe, and 
so on, exchanging Norman for Irish names. It 
was a symbolic act in the fourteenth century when 
the leaders of the Burkes took off their Norman 
dress and arms in sight of the King's army at 
Athlone and dressed themselves instead in the 
saffron robes of Irish chieftains. The English 
settlers, indeed, were as ready as the Irish them- 
selves on occasion to ^ssert their independence of 
England. They insisted time and again that their 
Parliament was independent of the English Par- 
liament. In 1408, for instance, they resolved 
^^that the statutes made in England should not be 
of force in this Kingdom, unless they were allowed 
and published in this Eongdom by Parliament." 
Thus we see two races growing up in Ireland with 
convergmg ideals. Fusion between the races was, 
but for outside interference, inevitable. England 
alienated her own colonists in Ireland by treating 
them with the same suspicion and harshness with 
which she treated the Irish. This was especially 


so after the English in Ireland, siding with the 
White Rose against the Red, accepted first Lam- 
bert Simnel and then Perkin Warbeck as their 
king. Henry VII, in disgust, sent over Sir Ed- 
ward Poynings in 1494 to wreck the independence 
of the Anglo-Irish Parliament. The passing of 
" Poynings' Law,'* which forbade the Irish Par- 
liament to originate laws without the consent of t 
the English King and Privy Council, is a hated) 
event in Irish constitutional history. In spite of 
this blow to Anglo-Ireland, however — partly, per- 
haps, as a distant result of it — ^the next great Irish 
rebel was a member of the English colony. The 
rebellion of Silken Thomas in 1534 was a Fitz- 
Gerald rebellion. Seven years later, Henry VIII, 
feeling the need of strengthening his authority, 
called the Irish Parliament together to sanction 
his adoption of the title ''King of Ireland *' in. 
place of the title ''Lord of Ireland,*' hitherto 
assumed by English monarchs. The bill authoriz- 
ing this was read to the Parliament both in Eng- 
lish and in Irish — evidence of the extent to which 
the Irish had reconquered: Ireland since the time 
of Henry H. It was the first time, indeed, the 
native Irish had been invited to attend the Par- 
liament. This use of the Irish language, unfor- 
tunately, was almost the last courtesy the Tudors 
paid to the conquered nation. 

It was not, as some people seem to think, a pas- 
sion for Protestantism that dictated the Tudor 


policy in Ireland. The Tudors were more eager 
to destroy the language and liberties than to save 
the souls of the Irish, Queen Mary (from whose 
persecutions English Protestants fled to Catholic 
Ireland for safety) was as hostile to everything 
Irish as her father had been. It was in her reign 
that a law was passed which flooded Ireland with 
debased money which was forbidden to be circu- 
lated in England — ^an obviously destructive blow 
to Irish trade. She also carried on her father's 
policy of denying the traditional right of the Irish 
people to share in the ownership of their lands, or 
to elect their chiefs, who were turned (with con- 
siderable flattery) into hereditary English barons. 
Every Irish custom, whether of dress or speech, 
was soon proscribed, and in Elizabeth's reign it 
became an offence to good men for an Irishman 
to be alive. I will not quote Nationalist historians 
in regard to the orgy of massacre and plunder and 
destruction which Elizabeth and her Ministers let 
loose on Ireland. English and pro-English his- 
torians are sufficiently emphatic as to the agonies 
that then laid waste the country in a manner that 
can scarcely be paralleled outside Armenia. 
Lecky declares that ** the suppression of the native 
race . . . was carried on with a ferocity which 
surpassed that of Alva in the Netherlands, and 
has seldom been exceeded in the page of history.'' 
**Sir Peter Carew," writes Fronde, **has been 
9een murdering women and children^ and babiea 


that had scarcely left the breast.'* Sir Humfrey 
Gilbert, another leading Englishman of the time, 
was, Froude goes on to say, not a bad man, but, 
in making war on the Irish, he ** regarded himself 
as dealing rather with savage beasts than with 
human beings, and when he tracked them to their 
dens he strangled their cubs and rooted out the 
entire broods." And these instances are typical 
Every torture of burning, strangling, and starva- 
tion was resorted to. When Irish chiefs eluded 
capture, assassins were hired to poison or other- 
wise ** abridge'' them, as in the case of Shane 
O'Neill, Hugh O'Neill, Bed Hugh O'Donnell and 
Fiach MacHugh 'Byrne. Shane O'Neill was 
murdered by arrangement at a banquet in 1567, 
after having made war on the English intermit- 
tently for sixteen years. Hugh O'Neill, though 
taken to be educated in England, was the next 
great Irish leader. He defeated the English in 
1598 at the battle of the Yellow Ford, called in 
the Spaniards (with whom the Irish ports of the 
west had traded for centuries) and marched vic- 
toriously from north to south of the country, but 
the national cause went down in disaster at the 
battle of Kinsale in 1602. With the Flight of the 
Earls in 1607 a nation also seemed to take to flight, 
and the planting of Ulster followed by the plant- 
ing of Leinster, with Lowland Scots and English- 
men, looked like the last word in the abolition of 
an ancient race. Nothing could be more charac- 




teiistic of the vitality of the Irish genius than the 
fact that amid the fire and slaughter of the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries the poets and 
historians went on with their labour of keeping 
alive the tradition and the spirit of the nation. 
O'Higgin, O'Hussey, Ward and O'Gnive are 
among the poets of the time, some of whose pas- 
sionate work still survives, and it was in these 
dark days that Keating wrote his History of Ire- 
land and the O'Clerys The Annals of the Four 
Masters. It was some time earlier, I fancy, that 
Marco Polo and Mandeville's Travels had been 
translated, like many other foreign works, into 
Irish. Seldom can there have been a nation which 
clung more tenaciously to its civilization and 

Exiles in their own land, the dispossessed Irish 
rose again in 1641 under Owen Boe O'Neill, a 
great and humane man who had earned fame in 
the Spanish service. With fine national insight 
jbie attempted to win oter the Scots planters of 
Ulster as well as the Anglo-Irish to his banner, 
but in this he failed. He won a tremendous vic- 
tory in the battle of Benburb in 1646, sending his 
men into the charge with the exhortation: ^^In 
the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, charge 
for the old land.'' He was a model of chivalry 
and statesmanship as well as a great military 
leader. He died of illness, unfortunately for Ire- 
land, in 1649, before he had had time to meet 


Cromwell in the field. **God help him,^' cried his 
nephew, who watched over him during his illness ; 
^'he talks of freeing Ireland first, and afterwards 
expelling the Turk from Europe/' Cromwell, 
who landed in Ireland in the year of O'Neill's 
death, fought more honourably than the Eliza- 
bethan ravagers, but he, too, dreamed of uproot- 
ing the Irish nation for ever and ever, or at least 
of sweeping all that was left of it *Ho Hell or 
Connaught," He waged war with a German 
ruthlessness. His savage slaughterings at Wex- 
ford and Drogheda have made his memory a thing 
of horror in Irish history, and the Irish still recall 
with passionate anger the way in which, under his 
rule, thousands of Irish women, children and boys 
were sold into slavery in the West Indies. It 
was estimated by Sir William Petty that during 
the O'Neill.Cromwellian war of 1641-1652 a thirdj 
of the population of Ireland perished by sword,] 
plague and famine. 

The Irish nation, however, did not perish. It 
owed little to Charles H, who in spite of Stuart 
promises left two-thirds of the good land of Ire- 
land in the hands of Protestants and recent Eng- 
lish settlers; and it owed less to James IE, who 
used it merely as a weapon to win back the Eng- 
lish throne. It had sufficiently recovered its 
strength, however, to play a leading part in the 
Jacobite war which began when the thirteen ap- 
prentices closed the gates of Deny in 1688, an(|, 


oontintdng after the defeat of the Boyne two years 
later, came to an end in 1691. At this date Sars- 
field surrendered Limerick to the! Williamites, not 
nnconditionally, but on terms. The Treaty of 
limerick guaranteed religious freedom to the 
Irish, and it is understood that this was in accord- 
ance with King William's own wishes. The ex- 
treme Protestants insisted, however, by an act of 
perfidy which in Ireland is still contemporary his- 
/tory, that the Treaty should be torn up and the 
I Irish subjected to both religious and commercial 
' persecution. Even today Limerick is known to 
j every Irish school child as the City of the Broken 
t Treaty. During the era of the Penal Laws that 
followed Irish soldiers fought against the English 
in most of the great armies of Europe, rushing 
into action with the battle-cry : * * Remember Lim^ 
erickP' Sarsfield himself died fighting for the 
French against the English at Landen in 1693. 
He is said to have cried with his last breath : ^ * 
that this had been for Ireland 1'* It must have 
seemed to him and to the other exiles of those sun-i 
less days that Ireland had now gone down into the 
grave for ever. 




In order to understand the state of Ireland in the 
early part of the eighteenth century, one must try 
to imagine what England would be like if all her 
national institutions and interests were swamped 
in a general ruin — the throne, the landed aristoo- 
racy, the soldiers, the laws and lawyers, the 
churchmen, the middle-class manufacturers, the 
shipowners, the skilled artisans and the school- 
masters. One may, I admit, deny the exactness 
of the parallel, but one cannot deny the truth of 
the picture. It is a picture of the utter destruc- 
tion of national life — both of the real and the 
potential national life — so that, as far as was 
possible, not one stone was left standing on an- 
other. What Burke called ^*the outlawry of the\ 
mass of the people '* was the first principle of 
English government in Ireland. Irishmen contin- 
ued to exist, it is true, as the Christian popula- 
tions in the Balkans continued to exist for cen-. 
turies under the rule of the Turkish ascendancy^ 
But they were not encouraged to do so. Every- 
thing was done that could be done to impoverish 



and debase them and to stamp them as an eter- 
nally inferior people. The Penal Laws, no donbt, 
threw open to Irishmen the profession of the turn- 
coat, but, as Lord Chancellor Bowes and Chief 
Justice Bobinson laid down from the bench, the 
law did not ^ ^ suppose any such person to exist as 
an Irish Boman Catholic. ' ' It has often been said 
in recent years that in practice the Penal Laws 
were not so severe as people imagine. This kind 
of apology reminds one of Miss Hobhouse's sug- 
gestion that the (German devastation of Belgium 
has been greatly exaggerated. The spirit in which 
Ireland waB ruled at the beginning of the 
eighteenth century by the occupying Ascendancy 
may be gathered from the fact that the Irish Privy 
Council in 1719 actually proposed that any un- 
registered priest or friar found in Ireland should 
be castrated. 

It is probable, however, that the national life of 
Ireland did not suffer such lasting injurious ef- 
fects from the Penal Laws as from the destruc- 
tion of Irish manufactures by the English Parlia- 
ment. In spite of laws and * Spriest-hunters "— 
secular priests were allowed to remain on certain 
conditions, by the way — ^Irishmen continued to 
study for the priesthood at Paris and Salamanca 
and Louvain, and to return to serve Mass to their 
I>eople in caves and woods. The Bishop of Kil- 
more, who was a skilled player on the bagpipes, 
went round his diocese in the disguise of a High- 


land piper. Thus the religious tradition of the 
country was never destroyed. The manufactur- 
ing tradition, on the other hand, was destroyed to 
such a degree that, when the industrial revolution 
arrived, Ireland was as impotent to meet the new 
conditions as a man whose hands had heen tied 
behind his back is to build a house. England had 
already taken steps to suppress the Irish woollen 
trade at the time of Strafford. Later on, she pro- 
hibited the export of woollen manufactures from 
Ireland to the colonies, and shut them out of her 
own markets by preventive duties. In 1699 the 
Parliament at Westminster went still further and 
passed a law forbidding the export of manufac- 
tured wool from Ireland to any other country 
whatever. The Irish trade with England in live 
stock and provisions had been destroyed by the 
Cattle Acts of Charles EL Ireland thereupon built 
up a thriving provision trade with the Continent 
and the colonies. England, jealous of this direct 
intercourse between Ireland and the plantations, 
then forbade the Irish to import from the colonies 
any goods that had -not been first landed in Eng- 
land, with the result that a heavy blow was struck 
at Irish shipping as well as at the colonial trade. 
These things are typical of the way in which the 
Irish trade and manufactures were strangled 
almost at birth by the English Parliament. An 
Irish glass industry sprang up: the export of 
glass from Ireland to smj country whatever was 


forbidden, Irish silk manufactures and Irish 
gloves, again, were excluded from the English 
market. By one means or another every industry 
or prospective industry — even to some extent the 
linen of the north — was either hampered or de- 
stroyed. Brewing, cott(m, fish-curing, sugar- 
refining — ^it was possible to build up none of these 
industries on a secure basis on account of the 
jealousy of the English manufacturing classes. 
The silent harbours of the west of Ireland in the 

' twentieth century are surviving witnesses to the 

/ destruction of the nascent industrial spirit of 

i the country two hundred years ago. 

This widespread ruin of industry and commerce 
had disastrous effects both on the Catholic and the 
Protestant population. It gave the Irish Catho- 
lics no outlet save the land — of which they had 
been largely dispossessed. When, thrust out of 
the industries, they made an attempt to recover 
their ancestral fields, they were punished as nia- 
rauders and agrarian criminals. Irish Protest- 
ants, disgusted at once with the restrictions on 
their industries and with the rack-renting meth- 
ods of the landlords, began to stream out of the 
country in thousands, and it is a memorable com- 
mentary on anti-Irish statesmanship that Irish 
Protestants played as great a part in the chal- 
lenge to English power at Bunker's Hill as Irish 

I Catholics did in the sindlar challenge at Fontenoy. 
General Robertson, giving evidence before a 


Committee of the House of Commons at the end 
of the American war, quoted an American general 
to the effect that "half the rebel Continental Army 
were from Ireland. ' ' Lord Mount joy, still a Com- 
moner at the time, declared in 1784 that ** America / 
was lost by Irish emigrants," and added that he 
had authority for the astonishing statement that 
"the Irish language was as commonly spoken in 
the American ranks as English.'' The eighteenth 
century, however, is notable in Irish history less 
for what the Irish did in the field abroad than for 
what they achieved in national reconstruction at 
home. It is remarkable enough that in all these 
years of ruin the line of poets and musicians — 
Carolan and Owen Boe 'Sullivan are among the 
well-known names — never was allowed to perish. 
It is remarkable, too, that in spite of persecutors 
and proselyters Irish schools — ^** Popish schools," 
as they were called — sprang up in hundreds in the 
remotest parts of the country and even in the 
heart of the Anglicized towns. It was to Munster 
especially that "poor scholars" came from all 
parts in search of Greek and Latin learning: 
"Munster for learning," an Irish proverb says till 
the present day. But the spirit of nationality — ^a 
spirit inevitably seeking to embody itself in insti- 
tutions — did not merely haunt forbidden schools 
and keep alive the genius of the poet and harp- 
player. It took possession of the Parliament of 
the settlers itself. The oM Irish nation having 


been swept out of the field as an organized force, 
a new Irish nation marched forward to take its 

The author of Irish Protestant Nationalism was 
William Molynenx, who denied that the Irish Par- 
liament was historically or rightly dependent on 
the Parliament of England, and who wrote the 
primer of Irish constitutional liberty (which was, 
naturally, ordered to be burned by the hangman). 
Swift followed, and his denunciations of alien 
government have the ring of contemporary politi- 
cal utterances. **We are in the condition, '* he de- 
clared, "of patients who have physic sent to them 
by doctors at a distance, strangers to their con- 
stitution, and the nature of their disease." He 
put the facts as regards English government in 
Ireland in an immortal and sardonic; sentence. 
**In reason," he said, "all government without 
the consent of the governed is the very definition 
of slavery; but, in fact, eleven men, well armed, 
will certainly subdue one single man in his shirt." 
Gradually, the Irish Parliament, anti-Catholic 
though it was, stuffed with placemen and pension- 
ers, and without any Septennial Act to keep it 
under the control of public opinion, began to re- 
spond to the new spirit in the country, and to 
protest against the impoverishment of Ireland, 
which was due not only to commercial restrictions 
but to absentee landlordism and to the outrageous 
pension system whereby any discarded royal mis- 


tress or scamp in need of a salary was charged 
to the Irish funds. Irish opinion, which armed the 
Protestant Volunteers for the defence of Ireland 
against a threatened French invasion during the 
American war, quickly realized the use that might 
be made of the new force for national purposes. 
At a grand parade of the Volunteers in Dublin in 
1779, the object of which was to demand freedom 
of trade, Napper Tandy's cannon rattled through 
the main streets of the city bearing the quaint in- 
scription : * * Open thou our mouths, Lord, and 
our lips shall show forth Thy praise. ' ' The Com- 
mercial Code was repealed in the following year. 
Backed by the Volunteers and by the great mass 
both of Protestant and Catholic opinion, Grattan 
at once pressed for the recognition of the Irish 
demand for le^slative independence. In making 
this demand, Irish statesmen based their claim on 
the ancient constitution of the country since the 
time of the Normans, treating Poynings' Law (as 
usually understood) and the Sixth of George I 
merely as unconstitutional outrages on Irish lib- 
erty. They declared that the King, Lords and 
Commons of Ireland were the only power compe- 
tent to enact laws to bind Ireland. They were 
loyal to King George not as the King of England, 
but as the King of Ireland. TThe English Ministry 
yielded to the Irish demand for independence in 
1782 and, in the following year, to make assurance 
doubly sure, they passed a Benunciation Act 


through the Parliament at Westminster, dedaring 
that the 

^^ Bight claimed by the people of Ireland, to be 
bound only by laws enacted by his Majesty and 
the Parliament of that kingdom [Ireland] in all 
cases whatever ... is hereby declared to be 
established, and ascertained for ever, and shall at 
no time hereafter be questioned or questionable." 

This pledge was cheerfully torn up in the same 
generation in which it was so solemnly given. 

Much has been written both in praise and dis- 
praise of Orattan's Parliament, as the Irish Par- 
) liament between 1782 and 1800 is usually called. 
Its chief vice was that it had not a Cabinet re- 
sponsible to it. The Irish Ministers, appointed 
by the King, were really the agents of the English 
Cabinet. The Irish Parliament might register 
vote after vote against them: they remained in 
office none the less as the servants of King George. 
The Irish House of Commons consisted at this 
time of three hundred members, of whom, Grattan 
. estimated, two-thirds were returned by fewer than 
/ two hundred persons. Here was a rich field of 
corruption, and Ministers made the most of it. 
Grattan 's Parliament in Ireland was as corrupt, 
let us say, as Walpole's Parliament in England. 
In spite of this, however, it was shaped into a mar- 
vellously workable instrument for the expression 


of the national will in progressive measures. The 
Irish Parliament had hitherto been forbidden to 
pass a law making the judges independent of the 
executive. Grattan's Parliament was no sooner 
in existence than it secured the same independence 
for Irish judges as English judges had possessed 
for sixty-eight years. Iti the same year it restored 
the right of Catholics to acquire every kind of 
freehold property. In 1792 and 1793 it granted 
the Parliamentary franchise to Catholics, opened 
(to some extent) the learned professions and 
army appointments to them, and enabled them to 
serve as magistrates and on grand juries. Thus 
the essentials of Catholic Emancipation (which 
did not come in England till 1829) were carried 
through Grattan's Parliament in 1793. **But for] 
the Union,'* O'Connell truly declared in 1833, **we 
should have been emancipated by our Protestant 
fellow-countrymen long before. *' During the 
brief life of Grattan's Parliament, Ireland did not 
suddenly blossom into a paradise, but she made 
strides towards prosperity in manufactures and 
agriculture to which even anti-Irish statesmen 
bore abundant witness at the time. Castlereagh's 
Under-Secretary at Dublin Castle even declared 
that one of the causes of the ** dangerous state'' 
of Ireland at the end of the century was * * the gen- 
eral prosperity of the country, which has produced 
great activity and energy!" 
One thing, unfortunately, the Irish Parliament 


steadily refused to do. The pensioners and the 
representatives of rotten boroughs were unwilling 
to sacrifice their bread and butter by reforming 
their House. It is only fair to remember that the 
English Parliament itself would not at the time 
have dreamed of passing so radical a measure of 
reform as that proposed to Grattan's Parliament 
in 1783 by the leaders of the Volunteers. All the 
same, in refusing to reform itself, Grattan's Par- 
liament committed a fatal blunder. Had the Vol- 
unteers' Reform Bill been allowed to pass in 1783 
it is likely enough that the Union with England 
would never have taken place. For one thing, the 
insurrection of 1798 — ^which, many reputable peo- 
ple have held, was deliberately '^facilitated'* by 
the Government in order to create an excuse for 
the Union — ^would not have happened. Reform 
having failed, revolution took its place. 

It is interesting to recall that it was Presbyte- 
rian Ulster which turned with especial eagerness 
to the idea of compelling the Irish Parliament to 
reform itself by a revolution which would at once 
destroy the tyranny of the unreformed Parlia- 
ment and would separate Ireland from the inevi- 
tably corrupting influence of English Ministers. 
The French. Revolution filled Ulster with high 
hopes and ardent ideals. Paine 's Rights of M(m 
became (in Wolfe Tone's phrase) the Koran of 
Belfast, and the anniversary of the fall of the 
Bastille was enthusiastically celebrated by the 


whole population of the town. No attempt was 
made by the anthorities to meet public opinion, 
and events moved with tragic certainty to the ris- 
ing of the United Irishmen. The rising, which, 
was a failure, was stamped out with a ferocity/ 
which, though it provoked ferocious reprisals, has^ 
never been forgotten by the common people. 
"Every crime, every cruelty, that could be com^ 
mitted by Cossacks or Calmucks has been trans- 
acted here,*' General Abercromby, the Comman- 
der-in-Chief, said of the forces under him, which 
had been goading the people beyond endurance in 
the months preceding the rebellion. During the 
suppression of the rebellion, no quarter was given 
by the military, and, as Lecky says, '*the execu- 
tions . . . were far less horrible than the in- 
discriminate burning of houses and slaughter 
of unarmed men, and even of women, by the 
troops." It was an inauspicious prelude to the 

The history of Ireland in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, as the Nationalist reads it, is a tragedy of 
jealousy — ^English jealousy of the commercial 
prosperity and political liberty of a neighbouring 
nation. Pitt looked at Ireland purely from the 
point of view of supposed English interests. He 
now determined to tear up the Renunciation Act 
and push through an old project for destroying 
the Irish Parliament altogether, in spite of the 
fact that it was the Irish Parliament which had 


supplied the bulk of the money and the troops for 
the suppression of the rebellion. Even though the 
country was in a state of confusion and horror 
and despair, however, the Ministers did not dare 
to put the question of the Union to the test of a 
General Election. Not Ireland, but a bribed Par- 
liament, was to be asked to decide Ireland's fate. 
Corrupt as the Irish House of Commons was, even 
it passed a Unionist resolution in 1799 by a ma- 
jority of only one. Dublin was illuminated, think- 
ing that this meant a moral defeat for the pro- 
posal. Castlereagh and Clare, however, set to 
work with more than a million of money and 
bought the patrons of many pocket boroughs with 
a promise of £7500 each for eighty-four seats 
which were to be disfranchised after the Union. 
"What Lecky called **the unbribed intellect of Ire- 
land" fought against the Union to the last: it is 
said that there were only seven members who in 
1800 voted for the Union from disinterested mo- 
tives and without a bribe. Never surely was a 
national Parliament given so brief and so poi>r a 
chance to justify its existence. No man had a 
right to pronounce it a failure in the year 1800. 
Its promise was of the noblest. No wonder that 
Grattan, in his last great speech against the 
Union, refused to believe that the nation he had 
done so much to build up was dead beyond awak- 
ening, and that he quoted over it the passionate 
words addressed by Bomeo to Juliet in. the vault i 


Thou art not conquer'd: Beauty's ensign yet 
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks. 
And death's pale flag is not advancM there. 

Archbishop Troy and the rest of the Catholic 
Bishops supported the Union in return for an 
ilnderstanding that the CathoUcs would at once 
be emancipated. Pitt, having achieved his object, 
did not redeem his promise ; he was afraid that if 
he did King George III might go mad. That is 
why ever since to the Irish Nationalist the Union 
has seemed not merely an evil, but an evil begotten / 
by corruption upon faithlessness. 




Btbon's comment on the Union between England 
and Ireland is famous. It was, he said, * * tne union 
of the shark with its prey.*' Dr. Johnson's 
prophecy has been quoted almost as often. **Do 
not unite with us," he said to an Irishman at a 
time when the question of a union was being 
mooted; **we would unite with you only to rob 
you. ' ' Modern Englishmen are sometimes bewil- 
dered when they discover that the Irishman, whom 
they regard as, on the whole, a poor relation get- 
ting more than his fair share of doles, accepts 
Johnson and Byron as having foretold and 
summed up with perfect accuracy the history of 
Ireland during the nineteenth century. From an 
Irish point of view, it astonishes many people to 
learn, the reign of Queen Victoria was a tale of 
disaster and horror to a scarcely less degree than 
that of Elizabeth. In the course of it, population 
fled, wealth emigrated, taxation increased, the 
fields went out of cultivation, hundreds of thou- 
sands of people perished by famine, hundreds of 
thousands of others were evicted, the language 



sank into decay, the national culture dwindled, 
almost everything that makes a nation, save faith 
and purpose, seemed to be inevitably melting 
away. Even Ulster, which had been so eager and 
integral a part of Ireland at the end of the 
eighteenth century, became more and more indoc- 
trinated with a seventeenth-century terror of the 
Pope and threw off the last remnants of her once 
proud Nationalism. She was Nationalist Ulster 
at the end of the eighteenth century; she was \ 
Unionist Ulster by the end of the nineteenth. J 
That is one of the tragedies of Irish history. 

In order to understand the extent of the ruin of 
Ireland during the nineteenth century, it is im- 
portant to remember that at the time of the Union 
the population of Ireland was 5,395,456, or more 
than half that of Great Britain (10,500,956). By 
the end of the century, the population of Ireland 
was 4,458,775, or considerably less than one-eighth 
of that of Great Britain (36,999,940). How many 
other nations in Europe are there which declined 
in population, not only comparatively, but abso- 
lutely, during the greatest century of expansion 
that the world has seenf This alone, however, 
would not give the measure of Ireland's falling 
out of the race during the century. Pitt, Castle- 
reagh and their supporters, recognizing that Ire- 
land was a poorer country than England, had 
foretold that the Union would bring the two na- 
tions more nearly on an economic leveL Irelandi 


as the first result of it, was to import English 
capital. Instead of this, as Irishmen foresaw, Ire- 
land began to export her own capital, and con- 
tinued to do so until the end of the century. In 
the first place, the landlords in increasing num- 
bers flocked to London instead of Dublin, and it 
has been estimated that not less than £105,000,000 
of Irish capital was exported to England in the 
form of rents in the first thirty years after the 
Union, After the amalgamation of the Irish and 
British Exchequers — ^which was deferred till 1817 
— ^the Treasury, like the landlord, became an 
absentee; and, while Ireland contributed to the 
revenue in a single year (1819-1820) the sum of 
£5,256,564, only a fraction of this, or £1,564,880, 
was returned to be used for Irish purposes. Thus 
Ireland, instead of being made an equal part of a 
kingdom, became merely a tributary province, 
payiiig out of her poverty something like £4,000,- 

000 a year to support an empire that had, from the 
Irish point of view, done her as little service as 
the Turkish Empire has done Armenia. It was, 

1 think, Lord MacDoimell's estimate in 1911 that, 
quite over and above the cost of Irish administra- 
tion, England had taken from Ireland during the 
preceding ninety-three years more than £325,000,- 
000. It is important that anyone who wishes to 
understand the Irish view of the Union should 
realize that during the nineteenth century Ireland 
was a country from which money was being 


drained, not a conntry to which money was being 
given* Not until the introduction of Old Age pen- 
sions was there an Irish deficit in the Budget — a 
deficit that has disappeared during the war. It is 
easy to imagine the results to Ireland of the loss 
of her capital during the early years of a century 
of industrial development. In the year of the 
passing of the Union there were 91 woollen manu- 
facturers in Dublin, employing 4938 hands. In 
1840 these numbers, instead of having risen, had 
declined to 12 manufacturers, employing 682 
hands. These figures are typical. Scarcely an 
industry was able to progress save the linen of 
the north, which, though hampered to a certain 
extent, had received ** most-favoured-industry '' 
treatment in the eighteenth centuiy. **Can we 
doubt,'' asked Professor Kettle, reviewing some 
of these facts, **that in overtaxation and the with- 
drawal of capital we have the prime catisa ccmscms 
of the decay of Ireland under the Union!" 

The truth is, the history of Ireland in the nine- 
teenth century has been the history, not of two 
nations governing jointly, but of one nation gov- 
erning another against its will. One may accept 
as symbolical of the history of the century the 
fact that between 1829 and 1858 twenty-three Irish 
land-reform bills were brought into the House of 
Commons and every one of them was rejected, 
while during the same period thirty-five Coercion 
Bills were introduced and every one of them 


passed. The way in which the Catholic Emancipa- 
tion Act was passed in 1829 was also character- 
istic of the government of Ireland under the 
Union. In the first place^ the Duke of Wellington 
pushed the measure through Parliament on the 
ground, not that the Irish hud voted for it con- 
stitutionally, but that they would rise in rebellion 
\ if it were refused. In the second place, the Gov- 
ernment, while emancipating Catholics with their 
right hand, disfranchised a great mass of them — 
the forty-shilling freeholders — ^with their left. 
The immediate result was that the landlords, who 
had hitherto cut up their estates into small farms 
for forty-shilling freeholders who would vote for 
them at elections, now cleared their estates of all 
these small farmers as undesirables and threw 
them out of the only industry — ^the land — ^which 
had been permitted to survive. Once more the 
poor and dispossessed multiplied. "When the 
Great Famine came at the end of the forties, it 
went through an impoverished nation like a 
scythe. The number of those who died of hunger 
during the Famine has been estimated by a Regis- 
trar General at 729,033, and another 200,000 per- 
sons are estimated to have died in the ^^coflSn- 
ships^' in which they sought to fly from a plague- 
stricken land. Thus, as Bright said, more human 
beings perished in Ireland during the Famine than 
had fallen by the sword in any war England had 
ever waged. And the most appalling fact in the 


situation was that the Famine was preventable 
even at the last moment, had it not been for the 
Westminster Parliament. There was an abun- 
dance of com and cattle in Ireland in 1846 and/ 
1847; it was only the potato crop that had failed. ) 
Had a native Parliament been in being, it would 
obviously have done what other European Parlia- 
ments had done in similar circumstances — ^what, 
indeed, the wisest Irishmen of the time advised: 
it would have prohibited the export of any f ood-i 
stuffs whatever until the people of the country) 
were fed. The landlords, however, were waiting 
for their rents, and the com and cattle had to be 
exported to pay them. Peel, instead of prohibit- 
ing the export of com from Ireland, facilitated 
the import of com into the country by removing 
the duties on it. This meant that the price of 
com fell sufficiently low to ruin the Iiiish farmer 
who had com to sell, but not sufficiently low to be 
within the reach of the starving Irish peasant, who 
had nothing left to him by this time but his im- 
mortal soul. There have been few more terrible 
episodes in history than this, as the Irish regard 
it, Govemment-Cjaused famine. 

It was not till the coming of the Fenian move- ^ 
ment in the sixties that Irish opinion began to] 
have the slightest effect on legislation for Ireland. 
The Fenians, like the United Irishmen, were re- 
publicans. They had a powerful organization in 
America, and thousands of their members wer^d 


in the ranks of the Irish police and the British 
Amjy. Their rising in 1867 failed— it was a mere 
flash-in-the-pan— bnt Mr. Gladstone, Lord Dof- 
f erin. Lord Derby and other public men confessed 
that it at least did something to awaken opinion 
in England about Ireland^ JPhe Irish (Protestant) 
Ghnrch was immediately disestablished, and the 
jBrst of the great Land Acts passed. Ont of the 
failure of Fenianism rose the modem Home Bule 
movement in 1870. O'Connell had demanded Be- 
peal of the Union in the forties ; he had declared — 
wisely, as I think, from the national point of view 
— ^that for the government of Ireland he would 
prefer an Irish Parliament without Catholic 
emancipation to a British Parliament with Catho- 
lic emancipation. He failed, however, to restore 
an Irish nation within the Empire, as Emmet 
failed in 1803 and Young Ireland failed in 1848 to 
restore an Irish nation outside the Empire. The 
Home Bule movement — ^first under Isaac Butt and 
afterwards under Pamell— was a movement to 
establish an Irish nation within the British Em- 


pire on a much more limited scale than O'Con- 
nell's. Butt was a Federalist with Conservative 
instincts, and Pamell, though he desired the resto- 
ration of Grattan's Parliament, was satisfied with 
the '^practical independence" inside the British 
Empire guaranteed in Mr. Gladstone's first Home 
Bule Bill. Thus it will be seen that Irish Na- 
tionalist opinion during the nineteenth century 


hesitated only upon one point — ^whether the re- 
establishment of the historic Irish nation should 
take place inside or outside the British Empire. 
What the average Nationalist has always desired 
above all things is a workable constitution, a resi- 
dent Parliament, and the liberty to solve his 
national difficulties, develop his national resources 
and express his national genius. 

It is easy, I think, to trace a ^^ stream of ten- 
dency '^ in the life of Ireland down through the 
centuries. Ireland has the persistent passions of 
a nation. We find her attempting to restore her 
nationhood now by constitutional and now by 
revolutionary means ; beaten back at one door, she 
attempts to enter by another. She has done some- 
thing in recent years to build up a national liter- 
ary life, a national ^*culturaP' life, a national in- 
dustrial life, a national farming life. Her political 
life, however, has been disastrously blocked. Of 
all the useful remedial legislation that has been 
passed for her since the time of Gladstone, there 
is practically nothing that an Irish Parliament 
would not have passed at least a generation 
earlier. The Land Acts, for instance, were merely 
belated concessions, not to the votes of the Irish 
electors, but to their violence in the days of the 
Land League and later associations of the same 
kind. In other words, Ireland, instead of being 
permitted to make her own laws, has been forced 
to tesort to lawlessness in order to obtain suitable 


laws from what she regards as an absentee Par- 
liament. English partisan historians, a witty 
Irishman once said, found Ireland a nation and 
left her a question. It seems to me that, until 
English statesmen read enough history to know 
that it is the Irish nation, not the Irish question, 
which has to be dealt with, there is not the slight- 
est chance of settled friendship between the two 
peoples. The Irishman regards himself as the 
heir of Irish history: the EngUshman is inclined 
to behave as though there were ho such thing as 
Irish history. Irish history, however, exists as a 
witness in the Irishman's favour. It is a history 
of the decadence of a nation — even the agrarian 
revolution has not put an end to this decadence — 
owing to the absence of freedom. In the twentieth 
century, will England adopt an attitude of hostil- 
ity to national ideals in Ireland while, as Mr. 
Sydney Brooks has said, ideals of the same sort 
would attract her enthusiasm and support in any 
other country in Europe — ^Poland, Bohemia or 
Serbia f This is not only a question of justice, 
but, as I have said, a question affecting wbrld- 
poHtics and the future peace of the world. 




SiKK Fein is a policy which it is easy to imder- 
stand and easier still to misunderstand. Those 
who prefer to misunderstand it say that ^^Sinn 
Fein*' means "Ourselves Alone." Mr. Lloyd 
George and Mr. Herbert Samuel have both at- 
tacked it on this ground. **Sinn Fein,*' unfortu- 
nately for them, does not mean ** Ourselves 
Alone'* any more than "God Save the King'* 
means "God Save the King Alone.*' It means 
simply "Ourselves." The name was chosen to 
indicate not a policy of national selfishness, but 
a policy of national self-reliance in contrast to a 
policy of waiting for the good-will of the British 
Parliament to make Ireland a nation. Even when 
the phrase, "Ourselves Alone" ("Sinn Fein 
Amhain"), is used, it is used in the same sense. 
It has no other meaning than that it is upon the 
courage, self-sacrifice, unity and exertions of 
Irishmen themselves that the future of the Irish 
nation depends. "The basis of the policy," Mr. 
Arthur Griffith, who founded it, has said, "is na- 
tional self-reliance. No law and no series of laws 
can make a nation out of a people which distrusts 



itself." The spectacle of the statesmen of a great 
Empire which has just added to its dominions 
Egyptj Mesopotamia, ' Palestine and immense 
tracts of Africa, taunting Ireland with pursuing a 
policy of selfish amhition is more ironical than 

Another popular misunderstanding in regard to 
Sum Fein arises from the belief that it is a policy 
of armed insurrection. It is nothing of the sort. 
The insurrection of Easter week, 1916, was not a 
Sion Fein insurrection, but a Fenian insurrection. 
As a leading Sinn Fein writer, Mr. P. S. O^He- 
garty, says, *^of the seven men who signed the 
republican proclamation only one was in any sense 
. a Sinn Feiner — Sean MacDiarmada — ^and most of 
'the others would have objected very strongly to 
being identified with Sinn Fein." Luckily for 
Sinn Fein, however, the journalists and the poli- 
ticians all spoke of the **Sinn Fein rebellion," and 
the Government arrested and deported Sinn 
Feiners and Fenians indiscriminately. When the 
insane harshness with which the leaders of the 


rebellion were treated produced a reaction in Ire- 
land, it was to Sinn Fein that the people turned 
in their anger and resentment. Fenianism was, 
after all, a secret movement, a conspiracy, and it 
is not easy to organize a whole nation into a secret 
society. Secret societies are disliked both by the 
der^ and by the middle classes. Sinn Fein, 
while sharing most of the ideas of the Fenians, 


had the advantage of being an open movement, 
which a priest or burgess could join without com- 
mitting himself to violent courses. Sinn Fein, it 
should always be remembered, had originally 
come into being as an alternative not only to con- 
stitutional Nationalism, but to Fenianism. True, 
Sinn Fein differed from Fenianism only in re- 
gard to methods, while it differed from the Par- 
liamentarian Nationalists on a point of principle.] 
Sinn Fein did not say that the Fenian methods 
were wrong : it merely doubted if they were prac- 
tical. It did definitely say that the Parliamenta- 1 
rian methods were wrong. Sinn Fein did not say ' 
that it was immoral to take arms against Eng- 
land : it did say that it was immoral for Irishmen 
to attend an English Parliament and to take an 
oath of allegiance to the King of England. Thus, 
though Sinn Fein may be called a passive resist- 
ance movement as opposed to an active resistance 
movement, it is easy to understand how it has 
come to be confused in the minds both of states- 
men and the public with physical-f orfee National- 
ism. The confusion has been greatly increased 
by the fact that, since the insurrection, the ablest 
of the physical-force Nationalists have been con- 
tent to work in the passive resistance ranks of 
Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein, too, accepts the tradition 
of physical force in the past, though it does not 
advocate it in the present. It will be seen that, 
if Sinn Fein turns aside from physical f orce^ it is 


not for Tolstoyan reasons. If ^inn Fein objects ) 
to physical force, it is because it objects to failure.' 
One remembers with astofiishment the fact that 
the Sinn Fein policy, which has now conquered 
three-fourths of Ireland, seamed already to be 
dead and done for two or three years before the 
war. The Irish people, like Sinn Fein itself, are 
lovers of success, and at that time Mr. Redmond's 
Home Rule policy seemed likely to succeed. Irish- 
men, like the members of other small nationalities, 
have wavered a good deal between a policy of 
absolute separation and a policy of Home Rule. 
They have been passionately bent on winning 
their liberty, but they have not been fanatical in 
their definition of liberty. At one time they have 
been largely republican; at another time, they 
have been enthusiastic for a Home Rule Parliar 
ment. Pamell converted them into Home Rulers 
because he persuaded them he could succeed in 
getting Home Rule. Unionist agitators alwaya 
make great play with the argument that Irish 
Nationalists are all separatists at heart and only 
consent to accept Home Rule, when they do con- 
sent, with their tongues in their cheeks. Mr. 
O'Hegarty apparently agrees with the Unionists 
on this point. It is a misreading of the facts. 
The Irish Parliamentary leaders, and their chief 
followers, believe in Home Rule within the British 
Empire, not because they cannot get separation, they believe that the position of a free 


nation inaide the British Empire would be best for 
Ireland. Pamefl worked with the Fenians, espe- 
cially after he had been driven ont of the leader- 
ship, bnt he was clearly an anti-separatist. The 
same may be said of Mr. Dillon and Mr. Redmond. 
These distinguished Irishmen were not hypo- 
crites. They said moderate things because they 
believed moderate things. Similarly, the Ireland 
that followed them was a genuinely moderate 
Home Bule Ireland. Home Rule at that time 
seemed a straight smooth road to liberty. When 
it was found to be merely a road of insult and 
futility, barred by armed men under the direction 
of ignominious persons such as ^^ Galloper" Smith 
(now Lord Chancellor of England), the majority 
of Irishmen began to wonder whether the steep 
and thorny way to an Irish Republic might not 
after all afford more hopeful travelling. The 
treatment of the insurgent leaders after Easter 
week convinced them that the policy of England in 
Ireland was one not of co-operation but of con- 
quest. They saw as in a sudden vision their coun- 
try being ruled by foreigners by the sword. The 
nation that has been haunted by this terrific vision 
and that can yet go on following moderate coun- 
sellors has not yet appeared on the earth. 

At the same time, I am inclined to think that 
the part played by Easter week in the conversion 
of Ireland to Sinn Fein has been exaggerated. 
The European War did as much, I believe, to turn 


Irishmen into Sinn Feiners as the Irish Rebellion 
did. The leading statesmen in the Allied coun- 
tries all became propagandists of the gospel of 
nationalism as opposed to the gospel of aggressive 
imperialism. They declared that the war was a 
war on behalf of the small nations, and prominent 
men began preaching separatism to small nations 
that had hitherto been largely content with Home 
Bule ideals. As a resnlt of this propaganda, 
Bohemia is now an independent republic under the 
presidency of the ex-Home Euler, Dr. Masaryk. 
Poland is also politically free. to a degree that no 
responsible Pole would have deemed possible a 
few years ago. Similarly, Finland, whidi recently 
only desired its liberty inside the Russian Empire, 
has as a result of the war been proclaimed a 
separate republic. It will be seen that the move- 
ment away from Home Rulism toward separatism 
and republicanism is not a peculiarly Irish phe- 
nomenon. It has swept along with it every sub- 
ject nation in Europe. One cannot preach a cru- 
sade for liberty without scattering abroad ideas 
of liberty. One cannot fight for liberty without 
popularizing it. Whether it was a result of the 
war or the propaganda, there is no question that 
during the last few years a far more advanced 
philosophy of liberty has taken root in the imagi- 
nation of peoples. The right of self-determina- 
tion, of every people to choose their own rulers, is 
now accepted in an absolute sense by hundreds of 


thousands of thoughtful men and women who not 
long ago would have dismissed it as too far be- 
yond the bounds of practicability to be worth 
troubling about. In Ireland, as in Bohenoiay 
Poland and Finland, the war was bound to pro- 
duce just such an extension of the ideal of national 
liberty. If the Sinn Fein policy had not already 
existed, Ireland would have had to invent it in the 
course of the war, even though there had been no 
Volunteers in the country and no insurrection. 
As a matter of fact, the war has added in one im- 
portant respect to the ideals of Sinn Fein. It has 
made Sinn Fein definitely republican. Before the 
war, official Sinn Fein did not demand for Ireland 
a position of greater independence in relation to 
England than Hungary had in relation to Austria. 
The rank-and-file of the movement were always 
republicans. The leaders are now republicans as 

Sinn Fein, however, as Mr. O'Hegarty points 
out in his able and useful little book, is not merely, 
or perhaps even mainly, a political movement. 
It is an attempt to rebuild a nation, and its policy 
is even more constructive in purpose than sepa- 
ratist. Mr. 'Hegarty thinks of it as the child not 
of Fenianism so much. as of the Gaelic League. 
To the Sinn Fei'ner the history of the past seven 
hundred years is the record of the war waged by 
English kultur on Irish civilization. The death 
of Irish Qiyiliz^tio© seems tp him an eveij. mpi^. 


/ appalling tragedy than the death of Iri^ liberty. 

* Hence he regards the foundation of the Qaello 
leagnein 1893 as a far more important event in 
history than anything connected with the name of 
O'Connell or Pamell, or even of Wolfe Tone or 
John Mitchel. The Gaelic Leagae began with the 
ideal of saving the Irish speech and culture in the 
already Irish-speaMng districts. Its vision has 
grown till it now dreams of an Ireland that has 
won back its past from the disasters of seven cen- 
turies, and that will renew its connections with 
those sources of the national genius which have 
already given the world Irish legend, Irish music 
and Irish imaginative speech. Sinn Fein in the 
noblest of its aspects is but a Nationalist adapta- 
tion of the saying: **The kingdom of heaven is 
within you. ' ' It is founded on a belief that each 
nation has a sort of ** inner light,'* fidelity to 
which alone will save it. The Sinn Feiner is not, 
as some of his critics allege, opposed to the broth- 
erhood of nations. He is opposed merely to the 
subjection of nations. He believes that the genius, 
culture and speech of every nation is worth pre- 
serving, and that to consent to servitude to a for- 
eign kultur is a sin against the light. Thus his 
objection to the Anglicization of Ireland is not an 
objection to Shakespeare or even to Mr. Wells. 
It is an objection to the destruction of Irish civi- 
lization. Most Englishmen refuse to believe that 
such a thing ever existed. One would have 


thought it would be impossible even to listen to a 
traditional Irish song without knowing better. 

It is easy to see how the belief in the equal 
rights of civilizations was bound to express itself 
politically as separatism. The Simi Feiner be- 
lieves in the right of Ireland to be a sovereign 
nation in a society of sovereign nations. He 
would^ no doubt, acquiesce in limitations of na- 
tional sovereignty if the citizens of all the other 
nations did the same. But no one can understand 
Sinn Fein who does not see that it is based on the 
view that Ireland is a historic nation with the 
same rights to independence and self-expression 
that England or France or Serbia or Bohemia has. 
It is because he believes this that the Siim Feiner 
regards abstention from the House of Commons 
as so important a part of his program. The 
thought of going to the House of Conmions and 
swearing allegiance to King George fills him with 
the same horror as an Englishman would have felt 
during the war at the thought of going to the 
Bteichstag and taking an oath of allegiance to the 
Kaiser. He thinks that to do such a thing would 
be to drag his country under the yoke before the 
eyes of mankind. That is the essence of the Sinn 
Fein point of view. Many writers and speakers 
are content to dismiss Sinn Fein as ** lunacy.'' It 
would be better to inquire what it really is. To 
dismiss as lunacy a movement that has captured 
the greater part of a nation — ^and not merely the 


fanatics, but the average intelligent^ cautious and 
peace-loving citizens — ^is to beg the question. 

As to what would happen to Sinn Fein if a 
** Dominion Home Rule*' constitution were 
granted to Ireland the prophets differ. The 
mass of opinion favours the belief that the Irish 
people would accept and work such a constitution. 
Would Sinn Fein survive! That, of course, is an 
entirely different question from ** Ought it to sur- 
vived Prophets differ as regards the ultimate 
destiny of Ireland as they differ regarding the 
ultimate destiny of South Africa. There would 
certainly ensue great battles for making the 
schools and ipiiversities Irish, for the protection 
of Irish industries, for the creation of direct com- 
munication with the other countries of the world. 
Orthodox Sinn Fein is at, present Protectionist 
and may continue so even in a self -governed Ire- 
land, but Labour (which is also in a sense Sinn 
Fein) may easily find itself in the opposite camp 
on this point. These, however, are problems for 
the future. Sinn Fein at present contains both 
reactionary and progressive elements, and as a 
party it might conceivably develop in either direc- 
tion. At present it is neither Conservative nor 
democratic, neither clerical nor anti-clerical, 
neither capitalist nor labourist. It is an attempt 
to unite men of conflicting schools of thought on 
the common policy of rebuilding the Irish nation 
with Irish brains and hands, and of organizing 


the people to work out their own salvation on the 
soil of Ireland. In another aspect, it is a denial 
of the right of England to role Ireland and a 
policy of refusing to acquiesce in English rule by 
attending ParUament, entering the Army, or rec- 
ognizing the right of English-appointed judges to 
sit in trial over Irishmen. It seems to me to be the 
most remarkable and also the most promising po- 
litical experiment in Irish history. 



If Matthew Arnold had been alive, he would no 
doubt have seen in the last Irish insurrection but 
another confirmation of his theory that the Celt is 
a person always ready to react against the des- 
potism of fact. He would have regarded it as a 
typically Celtic adventure for a few hundred 
Irishmen to declare war upon the British Empire 
at a moment when the British Empire was at least 
ten times more powerful in men, guns and muni- 
tions than she had ever been in history. He would 
hardly have been surprised that a body of Celts 
should have overlooked the fact that rifles are as 
useless against modem artillery as pikes are 
against rifles. And with sadly ironical lips he 
would have quoted his favourite sentence from 
Ossian: **They went forth to the war, but they 
always fell.*' Since Matthew Arnold's day, we 
have come to doubt the racial explanation of 
everything that bewilders us in Irish character 
and politics. For one thing many of the authori- 
ties on race have denied that the Irishman is^ 



apart from the inhabitants of certain western sea- 
boardsy a Celt at all. Professor A. C. Haddon 
has even gone as far as to assert that there is 
more Oeltio blood in England than in Ireland. 
This may seem a mere game of professors, but it 
is all to the good in so far as it prevents English- 
men from failing to see their own responsibility 
for the nnrest of Ireland. The mling fact which 
England— or any other country which wishes to 
understand Ireland — ^has got to recognize is that 
Ireland is the home, not of a mob of Celts, but of 
a nation of Irishmen. 

That is the leading fact about Ireland today, 
as it has been for centuries. Yet it is a fact which 
the authorities in Ireland have been reluctant to 
admit, even since the passing of the Home Rule 
Bill. The passing of the Home Rule Bill in the 
early months of the war left Ireland with Homex 
Rule on paper and with Dublin Castle in reality./ 
At the same time the great majority of the 
Nationalists, as well as the Unionists, ranged 
themselves, as I have already said, with England, 
France and Belgium, in the war against Germany. 
In the first place they regarded the case of Bel- 
gium as somewhat analogous to the case of Ire- 
land. In the second place they believed that upon 
their attitude at this crisis depended the freedom 
of Ireland still more than the freedom of Belgium. 
There was, to be sure, a dissentient minority even 
at the beginning of the war. But if Ireland had 



been granted Home Rule in the week in which the 
war broke out, that minority would never have 
risen above a handful. I do not mean that Home 
Bule would have been accepted as a final national 
settlement by the Sinn Fein Nationalists, but that 
the Sinn Feiners would have joined enthusiasti- 
cally with the Home Eule majority in making self- 
government a success. Unhappily, Sir Edward 
vCarson barred the way with a hundred thousand 
/armed Ulstermen. He demanded not only that 
Ireland should not have immediate Home Bule, 
but that the Home Bule Bill should not be passed 
into law while the war lasted. The result was a 
compromise by which Home Bule was passed into 
law, but the law was not to come into operation 
till the war was over. Home Bule, as Sir 'Edward 
boasted to his followers, had become' an Act, but 
not a fact. That was one of the fatal successes of 
Sir Edward Carson which led almost inevitably to 
the insurrection of Easter Monday. 

Sir Edward Carson and his armed men had the 
good fortune never to fire a shot, because nobody 
ever opposed them. At the time of their gun- 
running exploit at Lame, they took policemen and 
custom-house oflBcers prisoners ; they took posses- 
sion of railway stations; they earthed the tele- 
graph system; they held the roads with armed 
sentries. Had they been interfered with by sol- 
diers and policemen, either they would have shot 
them or they would have given in. However, it 


was the authorities that gave in^ and Carsonism, 
with its boatload of arms from Germany, enjoyed 
a bloodless triumph. But it was not only Car- 
sonism that triumphed on this occasion; it was 
the idea of physical force. Everybody of ordinary 
intelligence knew that the physical force of Ulster 
could do nothing against the physical force of a 
united England. But England did not happen to 
be united. Not only did a great part of the Eng- 
lish Press and English society offer unlimited sup- 
port to Ulster, but even the army was tampered 
with, and officers were told that it was unthinkable 
that they should be asked to shoot down their 
fellow-subjects (an Irishman of the north being, 
apparently, a fellow-subject, but an Irishman of 
the south not). Clearly, the Ulster Volunteer 
Force was merely the spear-head on a shaft con- 
sisting of much of the English aristocracy and 
plutocracy, and it was aimed straight at the heart 
of Irish nationality. The Liberal Government — 
despite protests from their followers — ^looked on, 
less like masters of the situation than like spec- 
tators with their mouths open. Many Nationalists 
suddenly became alarmed lest the argument of 
arms was the only argument that was going to be 
listened to, and it was the only argument in favour 
of self-government with which they had neglected 
to provide themselves. 

. The first news the general public heard of the 
introduction of arms into politics in the south of 


Ireland related, not to orthodox Nationalists, but 
to unskilled labourers in Dublin. Only a few 
months before the war, a terrible six months' 
strike had been brought to a close in Dublin, to 
the huge delight of the employers — and some lead- 
ing Sinn Feiners — ^who believed they had crushed 
labour agitation in Ireland for a life-time. Before 
the strike was over, however, the Irish Citizen 
Army had been formed, and the part played by 
this body under the leadership of James Connolly 
in the recent insurrection suggests the madness of 
crushing the poor with too unreflecting a ruth- 
lessness. To the Irish Citizen Army insurrection 
must have presented itself as the only means of 
resurrection. Social revolution, at least as much 
as national revolution, was their aim. They 
were Socialists and Republicans as well as 

But there was another armed body of National- 
ists which came into existence at the same time as 
the Irish Citizen Army, or a little earlier. This 
was the National Volunteers which, though Mr. 
Redmond is said to have been opposed to its for- 
mation, attracted into its ranks moderate as well 
as extreme Nationalists — ^those who were **loyaP* 
and those who were ** disloyal' ' — ^all of them with 
the siQgle purpose of defending the unity and free- 
dom of Ireland with their lives. At first Mr. Red- 
mond stood apart from it ; then, as it grew, he saw 
he must either enter it or see a rival power ti^ng 


control of the Nationalist movement. He conse- 
quently assumed control of the Volunteers, who 
were drawn, indeed, for the most part, from the 
ranks of his own followers; 

Then came the war and no Home Bule. Mr. 
Redmond promised the Government the unquali- 
fied support of Ireland in the war, and offered the 
National Volunteers as a home-defence force in 
union with the Ulster Volunteers. His offer was 
not accepted by the Government ; at the same time 
a number of the National Volunteer leaders de- 
clared that Mr. Redmond had no right to make it, 
and even regarded it as an attempt to bring them 
unconditionally under the power of the British 
Government. They therefore seceded and organ- 
ized themselves into a new body, the Irish Volun- 
teers^ under the presidency of Professor Eoin 
MacNeill, who was understood to be not a Sinn 
Feiner but a Home Ruler in politics. They took 
the view that in the war Ireland — an Ireland lack- 
ing the ABC of self-government — should remain 
neutral, just as certain Canadian Nationalists held 
that Canada should remain neutral. But as to 
their being then in any large degree pro-German, 
or contemplating an insurrection during the war, 
that is a fable. Undojibtedly, there were among 
them some who hated England sufficiently to be 
pro-anybody-you-please, and were filled with the 
belief that to die for Ireland even in a hopeless 
battle would in some mystical way help their 


country to become free. But these were a minor- 
ity : they were extremists among extremists. The 
purpose that held the Irish Volunteers together 
was a defensive, not an offensive purpose. The 
fact that the wisest and ablest of their leaders 
were opposed to the insurrection suggests that it 
was not the result of a plan preconcerted and long 
agreed upon by the Volunteers. 

How then was the insurrection brought about t 
Some declare that it was all a German plot. 
Others say that it was provoked by the authorities 
(or by certain subordinates). Others again hold 
that the less prudent leaders rushed the Volun- 
teers into a hopeless* venture in a spirit (as it has 
been described) of Christian Bushido. Others say 
that the rank and file of the Volunteers could 
never have been persuaded into so desperate an 
enterprise if they had not been convinced that the 
Government was about to attempt to disarm them^ 
Certainly rumours of disarmament had been fre- 
quent, and the week before the insurrection a 
document was published containing a detailed plan 
for the suppression of the Volunteers. This has 
sincet been officially declared to be a forgery, but 
one may be certain that the great mass of the 
Volunteers believed it to- be genuine. Who was 
the author of the document! Without the docu- 
ment, some people hold, there might have been no 
rising. Even some of the leaders who took part 
in the rising and have since been shot are said to 


have hesitated to give their voice for it till the last 

Mr. Birrell is much blamed for not having pre- 
vented the insurrection. Dublin Castle is sup- 
posed under his influence to have governed Ire- 
land with rose-water instead of the mailed fist. 
This is contrary to the fact. Armed bodies of 
Irishmen unquestionably enjoyed unparalleled 
freedom of marching and manoeuvring where they 
pleased. But Dublin Castle, which never accepted 
the Birrell policy, harried most of them individ- 
ually, ordered the deportation of some, and sup-| 
pressed most of their papers. Neither Dublin 
Castle nor the War Office was willing to recognize 
the fact that, now that the Home Bule Bill had 
passed, Ireland was a nation by Act of Parliament, 
to leave any diviner authority out of consideration. 
Irishmen wrote to the English Press again and 
again, urging that it was madness to treat Ireland 
not as a nation but as a sort of naughty English 
shire. They foretold that bloodshed was ahnost 
inevitable if the anti-national spirit went too far. 
But few of them foresaw a definite insurrection. 
When it came, it was a tragic collision of the anti- 
English with the anti-Irish spirit — of the unyield- 
ing with the unyielding. It might not have taken 
place if the English Government as a pledge of 
good faith had even begun to reconstruct the Irish 
Parliament House in preparation for the first 
Home Bulc Parliament. But the Volunteers 


began by believing that Home Rule was never 
coming and ended by believing, so to speak, that 
it would not be worth taking when it came. I 
refer, of course, to the rank and file. The W 
lievers in a more intransigent nationalism would 
have remained in a small minority, even in the 
Volunteers, if the suspicion that Ireland wasi 
going to be tricked out of Home Rule had not be-t 
come widespread. 

I have attempted to explain the insurrection 
rather than to estimate it in terms of good and 
eviL But there is no doubt that the majority of 
Nationalists, on first hearing of it, regarded it as 
an unqualified evil. They looked on it as a rebel- 
lion, not against England, but against Ireland. 
They honoured the courage and idealism of young 
men who were eager to die for their country, but 
they felt that not for the first time in history men 
with good intentions had blundered. ^^It is the 
first time in history,'' one of them said to me, 
"that Irish rebels have been *bad Europeans.' " 
The general opinion iir Ireland on the insurrection 
may not have been based on European considera- 
tions, but it was none the less hostile. But the 
executions of the leaders of the revolt, doled out 
(as it were) day after day, transformed condem- 
nation of the insurrection into horror at the 
Bloody Assize which followed it. The court-mar- 
tials converted the revolt of a minority into an 
episode in national history. They made people 


who had looked on the insurrection with detesta- 
tion see the leaders in the blazing light of martyr- 
dom. One is aware of a transformation of this 
sort in one's own mind. If clemency like Botha's 
had been exercised, thousands of Nationalists 
would have regarded the insurgents as brave men 
unwittingly doing a great injury to Ireland. As 
it is, one can see them now only as Irishmen lined 
up against a wall and dying for Ireland, dying for 
a dream at the hands of men who did not under- 
stand, or wish to understand, the dream. Never 
was England madder than to add in this way toi 
the bitter memories that already existed in IreJ 
land. Probably, however, not a single one of the 
soldiers who sat on those fatal court-martials had 
ever read a line of Irish history. 11 they had, they 
would hardly have dared to order a shot to be 

Lord Dunsany, himself an Irish soldier, in the 
course of an introduction to a book of verse by an- 
other Irish soldier, Francis Ledwidge, is careful 
to warn the English reader in regard to one or 
two poems which may seem to have an air of sedi- 
tion about them. These poems, which are con- 
tained in a volume called Songs of Peace, are 
laments for Thomas MacDonagh, Joseph Plunkett 
and the other men of letters who were executed 


after the Dublin rising. One of them, *VThe 
Blackbirds/* begins : 

I heard the Poor Old Woman say: 

** At break of day the fowler calne. 
And took my blackbirds from their songs. 

Who loved me well through shame and blame." 

And it goes on to picture the skylark and other 
birds doing honour to the dead singers. Lord 
Dunsany, fearing that such poems may be mis- 
understoody begs the reader ** rather than at- 
tribute curious sympathies to this brave young 
Irish soldier, ... to consider the irresistible 
attraction that a lost cause has for almost any 
Irishman.'* For my part, I think it is better that 
everyone should realize that the Irish soldier, 
like the Irish civilian, has in fact ^* curious sym- 
pathies, '* and that to ignore these sympathies, as 
they were ignored again and again in the course 
of the war, and especially in the harsh measures 
that were taken after the Easter rising, is political 
lunacy. Even the most ordinary worldly wisdom, 
I should have thought, would suggest that to give 
surrendered foes an opportunity to reveal their 
genius for dying nobly is to bum up all the mis- 
\ takes of their lives in the blazing glory of their 
deaths. The Irish insurrection was not a success 
/until fifteen men had been shot and one hanged for 
'it. How far it has become a success since then 
may be judged by the fact that a corporal in the 
British army wrote poems *4n barracks'' in 


praise of the dead leaders. It is not that he was 
a pro-German or a hater of England. Irishmen 
who felt not only a patriotism of Ireland but a 
patriotism of Europe in the war, and who would 
have regarded a German victory as one of the 
greatest catastrophes of history, were in most 
cases, I think, far more horrified by the methods 
by which the insurrection was suppressed than by 
the insurrection. It is certainly the tragic close 
of the insurrection which has made it already so 
exciting a theme for historians. 

The leading historians of the insurrection, 
Messrs. W. B. Wells and N. Marlowe, contend that 
**the Rebellion of 1916 was . . . the best con- 
ceived and, up to a certain point, the best executed 
in the whole history of Irish risings,'* and that 
the plans of the leaders, ** concerted with Ger- 
many's agents, displayed a strategic instinct of a 
high order. ' ' They suggest that, * * but for a series 
of accidents, it might easily have confronted not 
Ireland alone, but the whole Kingdom, with the 
gravest menace that it has so far encountered in 
the great war." Their opening chapter on Ire- 
land's strategic importance in relation especially 
to British sea-power strikes the keynote of their 
book. Thqy apparently regard the plans of the 
insurgent leaders as having seriously threatened 
both British sea-power and British land-power. 
But it seems to me that, while the British navy 
was supreme on the seas and the majority of the 



Irish people sympathetic to the canse of the Allies, 
the menace to British sea-power could only be 
infinitesimal. If Ireland were hostile, whether 
under the Union or whether in enjoyment of the 
widest independence, she could no doubt give as- 
sistance to German submarines in her many bays. 
But no Irish State would ever tolerate that. And 
as for the threat to British land-power, the war 
has shown, as Mr. H. G. Wells pointed out the 
other day, that successful war has now become 
impossible for any non-industrialized population, 
and it is a hundred times more impossible for any 
population which does not even possess artillery 
and the means of constantly renewing its stores of 
munitions. No doubt, had a German submarine 
fleet at work in the Irish Sea been able to prevent 
English transports from crossing to Dublin, and 
had an effective attack by the German Fleet on the 
east coast of England deprived the British Gov- 
ernment at the same time of the power to send a 
sufficient number of soldiers over to Ireland the 
insurrection would have taken longer to suppress, 
but with only one side armed with modem artil- 
lery the work of suppression could not have lasted 
many days. This point seems to me to need to be 
emphasized, as the historians blame the British 
Government for making light to the world of the 
seriousness of the insurrection. **Its policy of 
/ minimizing the gravity of the Rebellion,*' they 

write, ** inevitably threw into disproportionately 


high relief the punishmeBt inflicted on the leadersf 
of the rising, and the measures taken for the paci-f 
fication of Ireland/' They express no opinion on 
the wisdom or justice of the severe measures of 
the authorities. But they suggest that a large sec- 
tion of Irish opinion thought the punishments ex- 
cessive only because they were led to regard the 
rebellion as just a little one. I doubt that 

"Whether one agrees with it or not, however, one 
follows with intense interest the reconstruction of 
the Irish rebellion as an incident of European 
significance, like the Irish War for James IE and 
the plan of the United Irishmen for calling in 
Napoleon. The authors suggest that there was 
not ** adequate material for a serious Irish rebel- 
lion'' in the situation, had it not been for ^^ ex- 
ternal stimulus and support." On the other hand, 
the suppression of the Larkinites, the methods of 
Sir Edward Carson, the Curragh "mutiny," and 
the formation of the Coalition Government had all 
contributed to an atmosphere of unrest and angry 
despair in many parts of Ireland which had not 
until then shown any revolutionary leanings. 
Then there was the infection of the war spirit in a 
time of almost universal war. The historian has 
to take account of a hundred causes which com- 
bined to bring matters to a head. I notice that 
Messrs. Wells and Marlowe are of opinion that 
even the over-taxation of Ireland had something 
to do with leading up to the outbreak. 


**With the increase of taxation since the out- 
break of the war, Ireland was now paying for 
Irish expenditure to the full, and in addition 
£5,000,000 annually as an Imperial contribution, 
although it had been argued during the debates on 
the Home Rule Bill, both by the Unionists and 
Liberals, that Ireland was then taxed to the 
utmost, and the only possible road to solvency in 
a self-governed Ireland would be by way of econo- 
mies in administration. . . . Nor did the money 
go, as it went in England, to the stimulation of 
war industries. »' 

**The Irish Party at this time,*' they hold, 
^* would probably have taken some of the wind out 
of the revolutionists' sails if they had attacked 
the Budget and withdrawn their support from the 
Government.'' Certainly the financial grievance 
was a contributory cause of Irish discontent, but 
hardly to the point of revolution. 

As to how far the Volunteers ever intended 
revolution, instead of mere armed defence against 
the policy of Unionism, there is as yet no means 
of judging. Some of the leaders did not attempt 
to conceal their belief that revolution, if it could 
not free Ireland, would at least help Ireland on its 
way towards freedom. But Messrs. Wells and 
Marlowe hold, with the majority of those who 
have written on the subject, that the rank and file 
of the Volunteers did not know on Easter Monday 


that an insnrrection was about to take place. 
*^Most of the men who assembled under the in- 
structions of their Commandants at the various 
centres at 10 o^clock on the morning of Easter 
Monday/* they declare ** entertained no other idea 
thaa that they were to take part, as announced, 
in a parade or route march ; and it says much for 
the discipline of the Volunteers that they obeyed 
loyally and with alacrity the summons of the 
leaders which called them at high noon to engage 
them in armed rebellion against the King,*' As 
is well known, even the leaders were at variance 
as to the wisdom of the insurrection. ^* Finally 
the argument of the labour element prevailed, and 
by a small majority the council of the rebel leaders 
decided upon immediate action.*' Messrs. Wells 
and Marlowe contend, however, that, though cer- 
tain labour leaders advocated insurrection, the 
labouring classes were not with them. **The 
women of the slums, many of them the wives of 
soldiers, were enraged by the Republican proc- 
lamation and attacked the rebel leaders before the 
Post OflSce with bottles and most violent lan- 
guage. * * There is no doubt, as Sir Morgan *Con- 
nell, a Unionist landlord, stated before the Rebel- 
lion Commission, that **when the war started, the 
vast majority of Irishmen were in sympathy with 
England, * * even though in the Curragh period, as 
is suggested elsewhere, the opinion forced itself 
on many people that * ' English military power was 


in the last resort the enemy of Irish nationality.'* 
Even, after years of what Irishmen regarded as 
unjust trealment, Messrs. Wells and Marlowe 
assure us, ^'the mass of popular opinion mani- 
fested itself unmistakably as not with the rebels. *' 
Their book will, I think, take its place as the 
standard history of Easter week for many years 
to come. It is not a piece of ephemeral journal- 
ism, but an able essay in history. The authors 
seldom accept any statement for which they can- 
not produce evidence, though occasionally they do 
publish such a paragraph as: *^The most con- 
spicuous defect in the military organization of the 
Volunteers was the lack of efficient staff work, but 
in this department the resources of Germany were 
called in aid, and voluminous memorcmda on the 
higher direction of affairs reached the headquar- 
ters through various channels from Washington 
and Berlin.** On the other hand, they will not 
accept the theory — a theory for which there is 
abundant evidence — ^that Sir Roger Casement 
went to Ireland to prevent the rising, not to ad- 
vocate or lead it. The fact that he did not plead 
this at his trial — ^a fact urged by Messrs. Wells 
and Marlowe against the theory — is said to have 
been due to his generous feeling that he could not 
publicly dissociate himself from men who had 
died for the same ideals as his own. 


xtlbteb: the faots of thb oabb 

Ulsxeb's fear of Home Rule or any other form of 
national government is a much simpler and more 
intelligible thing than is sometimes admitted. 
What the Ulsterman fears most of all is that under 
Home Rule he will not enjoy self-government. He 
is sometimes painted as a person who is deter- 
mined at all costs not to surrender a position of 
ascendancy for one of equality. But that is hardly 
fair to the average Ulsterman. He has usually 
allowed himself to be led by men who believed in 
the gospel of the top-dog and did their best to live 
up to it ; but there have also always been tens of 
thousands of Ulstermen who were instinctively 
democrats, and who would never have opposed 
Home Rule but for the dread that it would mean 
not the reign of equality but the reign of a new 
sort of ascendancy. What men of this kind fear 
is that in an Irish Parliament they will be given 
laws they do not want, like a subject people. 

Oddly enough, they argue that the Irishman 
enjoys equality in the ** United Kingdom *' be- 
cause he has a vote and is allowed to send repre- 
sentatives to the Parliament in London. They 



fail to see that according to this argnment the 
Ulsterman must enjoy equality in a self -governed 
Ireland because he will have a vote and be able to 
send representatives to the Parliament in Dublin. 
As a Nationalist, I naturally hold that freedom 
consists in something more than the right to send 
representatives to somebody else's Parliament. 
But the point that has just been made is worth 
making as a reminder to the Ulsterman that, even 
were the worst to come to the worst, an Ulster 
Party in a Dublin Parliament would be propor- 
tionately far larger and more powerful than an 
Irish Party in the present British House of Com- 
mons. An Ulster Party could easily wreck any 
Irish Parliament that attempted injustice to 

It may be worth inquiring, however, whether 
there are any grounds for the fear of the moder- 
ate Ulsterman — ^I use the word ** Ulsterman,'' of 
course, in the customary political sense — ^that he 
will not enjoy self-government in a self -governed 
Ireland. He has been legislated for to some extent 
by Irish Nationalists in the past. "Which of the 
laws demanded and won by Irish Nationalists in 
the last fifty years has been contrary to the wishes 
of the ordinary Ulsterman! Land Act after Land 
Act has been gained. Who can deny that the Land 
Acts represent the wishes of the Presbyterian 
farmers of County Antrim as well as of the 
Catholics of County Galwayf Orange tenants. 


again, are as quick to take advantage of the Town 
Tenants Act as if they lived in Tipperary and 
went to Mass. It would be impossible, I think, to 
name a single law agitated for and won by Na- 
tionalist Irishmen in the last.fifty years which the 
ordinary Ulster Protestant really would like to 
see repealed. The Ulsterman^s quarrel with the 
Nationalist is not with the laws they have made 
or compelled to be made. It is with the laws he 
imagines they would like to make if they dared. 
His terror of Nationalism is not based on the 
legislative record of Nationalism (which consists 
of Land Acts, the Town Tenants Act, Acts about 
trade-marks, harbours, local government and edu- 
cation), but on some such fantastic theory as that 
if he marries a Catholic (whom he does not, ex- 
cept in a very rare instance, want to marry) an 
Irish Parliament will declare the marriage in- 
valid. He thinks of Nationalists chiefly as people 
who desire to penalize him. He thinks, too, that 
even if they would not penalize him through vin- 
dictiveness, they would ruin him through incom- 

The worst of illusions of this kind is that they 
are so difficult to destroy. They have the strength 
of principles, not of arguments. Reason is almost 
powerless against them. All the same, one is 
bound to go on reasoning. It is necessary to keep 
on asking the Unionist Ulsterman to mention any 
one point in regard to which the legislative ideals 


of North and South have clashed in the past. If 
Ulster had enjoyed complete self-government in 
the past, wonld she have passed the laws for which 
Nationalists have been responsible, or would she 
have been content with the laws which satisfied 
the Ulster Tory leaders? It is one of the para- 
doxes of the Irish situation that in most matters 
the Ulsterman has been far more in sympathy with 
the legislative policy of the Nationalists than with 
that of his own leaders. Lord Londonderry and 
Col. Saunderson had his vote, but Pamell and 
I Davitt represented his ideals, so far at least as the 
iland was concerned. The division between Ulster 
and the South has for the most part not been a 
division of interests, but a division of political 

As regards the future, also, our interests are at 
one. Ireland as a whole is an undeveloped coun- 
try. Ulster and Munster are developed in a sense 
in which Connaught is not. But it is broadly true 
of the whole country. North and South, that its 
resources, intellectual and material, have been left 
in a state of neglect, and that even the richest 
parts of Ulster are not rich according, say, to 
English and Scottish standards. The modem 
world is setting new standards of efficiency and 
education, and no people that does not take its own 
problems in hand and devote its united energies 
to solving them can expect to take its place among 
civilized and successful peoples. Even if Ulster 


did not come into an Irish Parliament she would 
have to learn to manage her own affairs. Eng- 
land has no longer time to manage Ulster land and 
Ulster education. All she can do is to place mat- 
ters of this kind in the hands of a board. With 
the war over she has less time than ever to devote 
to the solution of the special problems of Ulster 
or of any other part of Ireland. If the Ulsterman 
wants to find eager allies in the work of draining 
the Bann, he will find them among the Irish Na- 
tionalistSy not among even the best-intentioned 
English members. To the Englishman, the Bann 
drainage is a question of as little interest as the 
drainage of a district in China or Australia. To 
every Irishman it is a home problem, a thing about 
which one can get excited. It is a fact of human 
nature that problems can only be solved by those 
who are sufficiently interested in them to get ex- 
cited about them. 

The chief function of an Irish Parliament will 
be to focus the national mind on the various na- 
tional problems. The Ulsterman may protest that 
Ulster problems are not the same as Irish prob- 
lems. But the fact that Ulstermen have consent- 
ingly lived for so many years past under Irish 
laws, not English laws, as regards land, education, 
temperance, etc., suggests that what Ulster wants 
in all these matters is more like what Ireland 
wants than like what England wants. Had Ulster 
felt herself to be a part of Great Britain rather 


than of Ireland, she would long ago have insisted 
on being excluded from all this specially Irish 
legislation. By remaining without protest under 
Irish laws she has, it seems to me, confessed her 
/ unity of interests with the rest of Ireland. 

The only matter in regard to which I can im- 
agine any serious dijBference of ideal between 
Ulster and the rest of Ireland is education. And 
in regard to education it seems to me obvious that 
Ulster can obtain complete provincial autonomy 
if she wishes it. The encouragement of industrial 
life, however, the discovery of new methods of 
increasing the food supply, the raising of the level 
of health and wealth and happiness for all the 
people — these are objects upon which the best 
brains of all the four provinces can concentrate, 
without any clash of principle. In regard to these 
objects, indeed, I hold that Ulster can only realize 
herself fully if she is willing to play her part in 
the general resurrection of Ireland. Outside Ire- 
land she would merely be a backward and outlying 
province of Great Britaia, with all her best sons 
Emigrating to some happier soil. As part of the 
Irish nation, she will be the pioneer province of a 
country with immense untapped resources of 
every kind — a country which will attract the 
young and the enterprising instead of frightening 
them away. She will enjoy self-government be- 
cause she will not — she does not even now — feel 
that her interests demand different laws from the 


interests of the rest of Ireland, and she will have 
a full share in making those laws. Judging by 
the way in which Ulster has lived under Irish 
law up till the present, she can never possibly feel 
a stranger, a nuisance, a bore, a bottom dog, a 
mere hostile element with different needs, in the 
Dublin Parliament, as Ireland has so often felt 
in the British House of Commons. Ulster is an 
integral part of Ireland to a degree to which Ire- 
land has never been an integral part of the 
** United Bangdom.'* She has never objected to 
Irish laws, but only to an Irish Parliament. She 
will have no objection to an Irish Parliament 
either, as soon as she realizes that it will be, not 
an instrument for her subjection, but an instru- 
ment for the expression of her desires, her ener- 
gies and her ideals. Most people outside Ulster 
take it for granted that Ulster is much more likely 
to dominate an Irish Parliament than to be domi- 
nated by it. One thing is certain. She will be 
able to impress her will on Dublin far more power- 
fully and effectively than Lancashire impresses 
her will on London. Can self-government go fur- 
ther than thatt 




No man is greatly to be blamed for being in a 
muddle in years in which the whole frame of 
things has been tottering. I am convinced, how- 
ever, that a great deal of the muddled tl^inMng of 
the time is due, not to the general confusion of 
events, but merely to a confusion of words. I do 
not see how it is possible for political thought to 
become clear until we have ceased to give, as all 
of us sometimes give, the same word two opposite 
meanings. The word '^ Nationalism" is in this 
respect the most deceptive piece in the political 
vocabulary. Sometimes it is used to mean genuine 
Nationalism; sometimes it means Imperialism, 
which is the contrary of NationalisuL I realize 
that Nationalism may easily develop into Im- 
perialism, just as self-confidence may easily de- 
velop through self-conceit into the spirit of self- 
aggrandizement. There is no virtue so secure 
that it cannot be altered into a denial of itself. 
Has not the very love of God been identified with 


the passion of persecation, craelty, hate and mur- 
der f It should be the first duty of thinkers to 
prevent this fraud of words. Exchange of thought 
is ahnost impossible with a man who, when he says 
** white/' means " black, '* and, when he says Lord 
Birkenhead, means Mr. George Lansbury. It be- 
comes quite impossible if, when he says Lord Bir- 
kenhead he means sometimes Mr. George Lans- 
bury and sometimes Lord Birkenhead. 

Yet that is the position as regards the use of the 
word Nationalism by practically everybody at one 
time or another. It is an undoubted fact that the 
party of expansion in various countries calls itself 
Nationalist when it should say Imperialist. But 
political philosophers should not allow themselves 
to be misled by camouflage of this sort. European 
thought would become infinitely more lucid if we 
reserved the word Nationalism for a nation's de- 
mand for an equal right of self-expression with 
other nations, and used the word Imperialism to 
signify the demand for the right of self- 
aggrandizement, even at the expense of other na- 
tions. Nationalism, it has been said, involves the 
theory of a democracy of nations ; Imperialism in- 
volves the theory of a hierarchy of stronger na- 
tions with the right to subject weaker nations to 
their will. Nationalism is concerned with the 
building up of the life of a nation within its own 
borders, and implies that, in so far as its activities 
extend beyond its borders, they shall do so not by 

IRISH Self-determination 95 

self-seeking violence, but with the consent of the 
other nations implicated. Imperialism, on the 
other hand, is concerned with the extension of a 
nation's power beyond its own borders: it is a 
policy of egoism, arrogance and the right of the 
stronger. Here, surely, is a distinction of terms 
which, if observed, would assist us greatly 
towards getting a clear idea of some of the prob- 
lems of government with which the world is now 
in travail. 

Unfortunately, many British writers do not like 
to use the word Imperialism in its proper sense 
because they are afraid that by doing so they will 
be condemning the British Empire in its finer and 
more democratic aspects. They, naturally shrink 
from condemning that democratic system of free 
nations which includes Canada, Australia and 
South Africa. A distinguishing name should be 
given to that part of the British Empire which is 
really self-governing. The British Empire is 
partly an empire and partly not an empire ; and 
at present the virtues of the part which is not an 
empire are used by many good men to blind them- 
selves to the vices of the part which is an empire. 
Bishops swallow the whole of the empire at a gulp, 
as though it were as impossible for an empire as 
for an egg to be good only in parts. They see that 
Australia is free, and the freedom of Australia, 
instead of persuading them that Ireland ought 
also to be free, persuades them that Ireland ao- 


tuaHy ifl free. (General Sinats has proposed to/ 
rename the British Ehnpire the British Common-l 
wealth. One might suggest as an amendment to 
this that the free parts of the British Empire — 
Oreat Britain, Canada, Sonth Africa, Anstrafia, 
etc — should be differentiated from the rest under 
the name of the British Commonwealth. It would 
then become clear to the average simple man that 
/Ireland, India and Egypt are not portions of the 
British Commonwealth, but only of the British 
\Eimpire. This would, I fancy, hasten the day when 
men would demand the conversion of the British 
Empire into the British Commonwealth — a vastly 
more important thing than its mere rebaptisuL 
One may leave out of consideration for the mo- 
ment the question of the government of barbarous 
races. In the meantime, what sane man can ques- 
tion that at least the borders of the Common- 
wealth should have been, before the Peace Confer- 
ence, enlarged so as to include Ireland, with the 
implication that Ireland should be at liberty either 
to remain in it or to leave it, according as she pre- 

Mr. A. E. Zimmem is a writer whose book. The 
Greek Commonwealth, it seems to me difficult to 
overpraise. His book on current politics. Nation- 
ality and Government, on the other hand, is the 
outcome not merely of an ambiguous use of the 
word Nationalism, but of a failure to understand 
the difference between Nationalism and Imperial- 


ism and between the one kind of British Empire 
and the other. Hence it is itself a f ailure, and can 
only be praised with great reservations. Mr. 
Zimmem^s prfejudices are all in favour of the com- 
posite State as opposed to the nation-State ; and^ 
as a result, he is opposed to the principle of self- 
determination, on the one hand, and hesitant (to 
say the least of it) in regard to the League of 
Nations, on the other. He says many fine things 
incidentally, and is full of enthusiasm for Na- 
tionalism as a spiritual force. It is only as a po- 
litical force that it unbalances him. Now, no one 
but a materialist will deny that the spirit of Na- 
tionalism is a greater thing than the politics of 
Nationalism. It is equally true that the spirit of 
Liberalism is greater than the politics of Liberal- 
ism. But, just as the spirit of Liberalism must 
attempt to express itself in politics, so must the 
spirit of Nationalism attempt to express itself in 
politics. It is a creative spirit, not a fad. 

Spiritual Nationalism is desirable, according to 
Mr. Zimmern, because it gives the Jew in England 
and the Croatian and Pole in America a necessary 
link with the past in a home-country of his own 
people. Here Mr. Zimmern seems to me to be con- 
fusing Nationalism with racialism. Nationalism 
is not a matter of racial pride. The national line 
of cleavage is, in most modem nations, distinct 
from the racial line. A good Englishman of to- 
day may be of Saxon, Norman, Celtic or Iberian 


race. Sir Alfred Mond, I suppose, would describe 
himself as a member of the Jewish race and of the 
English nation. Mr. Zimmem would probably 
argue from this that, if a number of races can 
come to terms within the bounds of a single nation, 
it ought to be possible for a number of nations to 
come to terms within the bounds of a single State. 
And it manifestly is possible. No reasonable man 
can object to Mr. Zimmem 's ideal of a composite 
State except in so far as he denies the right of 
self-determination to the separate nations of 
which it is made up. The British Commonwealth 
portion of the British Empire is admired by Lib- 
erals in all countries chiefly because the nations 
which compose it enjoy the right of self- 
determination almost completely. J£ I remember 
aright, even so vehement an !bnperialist as Mr. 
Chamberlain agreed that if Australia or Canada 
wished to separate itself entirely from the Em- 
pire it could do so. The British Commonwealth 
part of the Empire is a voluntary union of free, 
self -determining nations, and is no argument in 
favour of a composite State based on the denial of 
the right of self-determination. 

In order to make out a case against self- 
determination, indeed, Mr. Zimmem has to ignore 
all the great national straggles for freedom 
against external rule and to take refuge in the 
ambiguous and irrelevant instance of the Ameri- 
can Civil War. Lincoln did not, as Mr. Zimmem 


thinks he did, wage war to resist the principle of 
national self-determination. He regarded the 
United States as the unit of American nationality. 
The Southern States were not a nation; they were 
only the minoplty within a nation. They pro- 
claimed themselves a nation at the time, but that 
was merely a move in a political game. That they 
were not a nation was proved by the simple fact 
that they did not carry on the struggle for na- 
vtional independence after their defeat, as tiie 
I Poles, the Irish and the Czechs have done. Na- 
* tions are not capable of sudden subsidence after 
this fashion. Hence, it seems to me absurd for 
Mr. Zimmern to pretend that there is any prece- 
dent to be found with respect to the right of na- 
tions to self-determination in the instance of the 
United States. 

I quite agree with Mr. Zimmern that self- 
determination is "a poor and unhelpful substitute 
for the Christian doctrine of human brotherhood 
and for Lincoln ^s great formula of dedication. '* 
But who suggests treating it as a substitute for 
these things! Liberty is not a substitute for love, 
any more than a bottle of claret is a substitute for 
a pair of boots. Personally, I cannot see how the 
Christian doctrine of human brotherhood can be 
honestly held by anyone who is not wilUng to con- 
cede liberty and equality as well as fraternity to 
all other nations as well as his own. 
I have, perhaps, over-emphasized the points in 


regard to which I think Mr. Zimmem has gone 
astray. I feel, however, that Mr. Zumnem is a 
Liberal who has made the ndstake of sitting down 
at '^the Bonnd Table" and has learned there to 
think, not fundamentally, but Liberal-Imperially. 
He is an internationalist, but apparently he be- 
lieves less in a Leagae of Nations than in a num- 
ber of quasi-Empire-States with good intentions 
and, no doubt, plenty of Home Bule. He thinks 
it was a calamity for Belgium to have become an 
independent nation, as though a Germany which 
did not shrink from challenging Bussia, France 
and England would have shrunk from challenging 
a Confederation of the Netherlands I 

**The two chief weaknesses of British liberal- 
ism," says Mr. Zimmem, ^^are ignorance and 
amiability." The weakness of Mr. Zimmem 's 
Liberalism, I should say, is his woolly and waver- 
ing use of words. Even where he writes of Lib- 
eralism, he uses the word in a sense that makes 
practically every English-speaking man a Liberal. 
The war of American Independence, he says, 
^' arose, not out of a conflict between Liberalism 
and its opposite, but out of the clash of two rival 
conceptions of freedom and corporate responsi- 
bility." Might not a Prussian professor explain 
the German invasion of Belgium in similar terms t 
To Mr. Zimmem the late Lord Salisbury— ** seen, 
as it were, from above" — ^is simply a Liberal of 
the Bight. The English party system, he explains, 


** could not function at all unless both sides were 
prepared to accept, not simply the constitutional 
framework inside which their activities are car- 
ried on, but the moral ideas which created it and 
sustain it/' But the party of Lord Salisbury, as 
was shown during the fight over the House of 
Lords and Home Rule, accept none of these things. 
They attempted to revive the Royal veto and to 
withdraw the right of financial supply from the 
representatives of the people, and they helped Sir 
Edward Carson to raise a private army to defeat 
the will of Parliament. If the party of Lord Salis- 
bury did not behave like Prussian Junkers, it is 
not because they lacked the will, but because they 
lacked the power. English liberals would be 
ignorant and amiable indeed if they did not per- 
ceive that Prussianism is a disease of the human 
soul, which can no more than influenza be confined 
within the borders of a single nation. Liberalism 
has to fight Prussianism in England as in Ger- 
many. To form a coalition between the shade of 
George in and the shade of George Washington 
and to call it Liberalism might be entertaining as 
a paradox ; but seriously to do this seems to be a 
playing with words and a mockery of the ideals 
Washington fought to establish. I trust that when 
Mr. Zimmem makes his next contribution to po- 
litical literature he will, for his own sake, preface 
it with a dictionary of political terms and take 
as his guide through the tangle of the world's 


problems something better than a half-and-half 
a priori Imperialism. Such a philosophy as his, 
I feel, is a stmnbling-block in the way not only of 
the freedom of individual peoples but of the 
League of Nations. 

Professor J. H. Morgan is another distin- 
guished Liberal who approaches Home Bule in the 
spirit less of a determined Liberal than of a con- 
stitutional lawyer. As editor of an authoritative 
Liberal volume on Home Bule, The New Irish 
Constitution, he shows none of that eager faith in 
the democratic principle and in the Irish people 
which inspired Mr. Erskine Childers's masterly 
political essay The Framework of Home Rule. 
He sees, to be sure, as clearly as Mr. Childers 
does, the folly of trying to make Home Bule fit 
into a Procrustean bed of doctrinaire FederalisnL 
But with him this is a question of convenience 
rather than of freedom. He has no objection in 
principle to maiming the freedom of the Irish Par- 
liament to suit the imagined convenience of the 
United Kingdom. He is inclined to regret, for 
instance, that under the Home Bule Bill the num- 
ber of matters in xegard to which the Irish Par- 
liament would be forbidden to legislate **has not 
been enlarged. '^ **It is highly desirable,*' he 
holds, **to avoid conflict of laws in the United 
Kingdom as far as possible." Therefore he is 


not content with seeing the Land Aets, Old Age 
Pensions Acts, National Insurance Acts and 
Labour Exchange Acts reserved for the control 
of the Imperial Parliament. He is anxious to 
keep an Imperial grip on the Companies Acts, the 
Bills of Exchange Acts and the Factory Acts as 
well. In regard to the last of these, he complains 
that ^'Ireland may discriminate against England 
only less effectively by lowering the standard of 
the Factory Acts than by a tariff.'' In other 
words, Ireland is to be denied the liberty to man- 
age her own industrial life, because she may con- 
ceivably abuse it. But cannot this argument be 
extended so as to tell against the grant of any 
measure of Home Rule whatever! If the English 
people are to give way to jealousy, not of what 
Ireland has done, is doing, or is most likely to do, 
but of what she might be imagined as doing, they 
will insensibly slide into one of those moods of 
' national suspiciousness which have so often led 
strong empires to destroy both the liberties 
and the industries of weaker nations. Self- 
government, if it is worth granting at all, must, 
like every other great reform, come as an expres- 
sion of confidence in human nature. If Ireland is 
to be kept in leading-strings for fear she may 
stumble, or, worse still, prefer the gutter to the 
high road, those who so keep her are much more 
likely to limit/ and hamper her power for good 
than her' power for evil. The ideal of true Idber- 

I ■ 


alism is to give Irish opinion and Irish character 
the freest possible scope in directing the course of 
Irish national life — ^to liberate the moral and ma- 
terial energies of the Irish people for the great 
work of national reconstruction. 

**The doctrine orMazzini/' Professor Hob- 
house observes, in the important volume Profes- 
sor Morgan has edited, ''that every nation had its 
own peculiar function to fulfil in the life of hu- 
manity, was not pure fancy. ' ' There is more light 
shed on the problem of Irish self-government in 
that single sentence than in the whole of Professor 
Morgan's able and — on constitutional points— in- 
structive chapter. Professor Hobhouse has also 
done a service to Liberals in emphasizing the old, 
but sometimes forgotten, truth that ''the primary 
object of political Liberalism is to found govern- 
ment on freedom," and in reminding them that 
freedom means a good deal more than the estab- 
lishment of "a well-oiled representative ma- 
chine." Freedom does not mean merely repre- 
sentation in a democratic assembly. If it meant 
nothing beyond that, then England could have no 
logical objection to being incorporated in the 
United States or in France, provided she were 
given her fair share of representatives in Con* 
gress or the Chamber of Deputies. But, ob< 
viously, freedom involves representation in at 
assembly that is not only democratic but national 
The case might be briefly stated in this way 

IRISH Self-determination 105 

One's own representative institutions are repre- 
sentative; other people's representative institu- 
tions are not. But, if this is so, Unionists may 
fairly ask whether the principle we have laid down 
does not hold good in regard to Unionist Ulster 
in Ireland, as well as in regard to the position of 
Ireland as a whole in the United Kingdom. It 
certainly would do so if Ulster had ever claimed 
to be treated as a nation. But Ulster never has 
made this claiQi. So far, Ulster has had no sepa- 
rate history as Ireland has had a separate history. 
She has never felt the need of a native Parlia- 
ment, as Ireland has done, in order to ^^ fulfil her 
function'' among the nations of the world. At 
her noblest, she has been on the side of the Irish 
nation in its struggle for liberty, and she has in- 
variably shared in the fruits of Irish national vic- 
tories, such as the successive Land Acts. At her 
worst, she has allowed herself to be made the tool 
of an ascendancy faction — a sort of Irish Oppo- 
sition which claims to rule Ireland permanently 
through Westminster. Thus the demand of 
Unionist Ulster is not a demand for freedom; it 
is a demand for the right to keep Ireland in sub- 
jection — or at least for the continuance of a state 
of affairs which involves the subjection of Ire- 
land. It is a demand begotten of sectarian fears, 
of ignorance of Irish history and ignorance of the 
world's history. Unionist Ulster has never af- 
firmed a single positive ideal. She has simply 


repeated '^Not'^ a thousand times in a hundred 
thousand voices. 

So much for the Liberal attitude to Irish Na- 
tionalism and Ulster UnionisuL But self- 
government is equaHy the logical outcome of the 
Liberal attitude to British representative institu- 
tions. No one but a political partisan could read 
Mr. H. de B. Walker's article. The Tendency 
towards Legislative Disintegration,mtiiout realiz- 
ing the extent to which British representative in- 
stitutions are imperilled by the postponement of 
Home Bule — ^perhaps, of Home Bule all round. 
In the first place, there is the eternal congestion 
of business, resulting in the constant application 
of the guillotine, and in the voting of huge sums 
of public money without discussion or criticism. 
'^The Mother of Parliaments,'' as Mr. Cecil 
Harmsworth says, writing on The State of Par- 
liamentary Business, '4s trying to do the work of 
four or five Parliaments, and is signally failing iu 
the attempt." The facts brought forward by Mr. 
Walker dearly show that the British Parliament 
is overburdened, because it attempts, not only to 
be a Parliament of the United Kingdom, but an 
English Parliament, a Scottish Parliament, an 
Irish Parliament, and a Welsh Parliament as welL 
Of the 1089 Public Acts which it passed in the 
twenty years 1891-1910, only 547 were applicable 
to the United Kingdom as a whole ; the other 542 
applied to certain ^^ States" of the United King- 

IRISH Self-determination 107 

dom alone. These figures, it should be added, do 
not include the Local and Private Acts, the enu- 
meration of which would make the case for devo- 
lution still stronger* But, bad as the congestion 
of business is, it is not the worst feature of this 
imitation of a legislative union. Far worse is the 
fact that it introduces into the House of Commons 
more than a hundred members who, when they 
conseiht to attend, do not profess to represent the 
views of their constituents on any of the great 
political questions of the day, except the Question 
of self-government. "Ireland,'' as Mr. Walker 
says, "wheiher in its Nationalist or its Unionist 
constituencies, never expresses any other opinion 
than for or against Home Rule. . . . It is im- 
possible to say, for instance, whether Ireland is 
in favour of Tariff Reform or not. * ' Thus, on the 
fiscal question, and on many other questions, the 
Irish representatives are not representative; in 
other words, they are not responsible to, and do 
not express the opinion, and wants of, their con- 
stituents. To this extent Parliamentary govern- 
ment is injured. And British votes on Irish ques- 
tions are irresponsible and unrepresentative as 
are Irish votes on British questions. In the result 
the tendency to "log-rolling'' is strengthened, and 
the evils of "log-rolling'' accentuated. The 
Unionists, who have themselves so often angled 
for the Irish vote, denounce it as a "corrupt bar- 
gain'' when the Irish vote is cast for the Liberals. 


But, if there is any corruption in' the bosiness, it 
lies, not in the ^^ bargain," but in the legislative 
nnion, of which the ^'bargain" is an inevitable 
consequence, and which Unionists, nevertheless, 
desire to perpetuate. It should be the task of 
Liberalism to free Oreat Britain and Parliamen- 


tary government from all such political corrupting 
influences. The machine of government will 
otherwise suffer because the morals of government 
are neglected. Unfortunately, many Liberals are 
in danger of approaching Home Bule as a question 
of machinery and convenience, instead of as a 
question involving large moral principles. 


Sir Edward Carson declared in the courscf of his 
famous Ulster campaign: '^I despise the will of 
the people ; I care nothing for the opinion of the 
world, or for the Acts of the Legislature. '* Noth- 
ing, perhaps, has done so much to range the 
British workers on the side of Ireland as the spec- 
tacle of this elderly lawyer setting up in recent 
years as the E^aiser of Ulster and entering pub- 
licly, as the Times put it, into a sort of offensive 
and defensive alliance with the Deity. Sir Ed- 
ward claimed the right to ** break every law"; 
the Kaiser has claimed the same right. They 
both alike abandoned themselves to a political 
philosophy which, if put into practice, would 


make liberty, security and oivilizatiou impossible* 
They both in their separate spheres played the 
part of world-wreckers, and it is difficnlt to see 
how they could more successfnlly have brought 
death and disaster on their fellow-men. If many 
Englishmen have come to long for a settlement 
with Ireland, it is not merely because they have 
grown weary of an old wrong, but because they 
realize that Oarsonism is but one phase of the 
monstrous lie against which the peoples of the 
West have been fighting. We know that while Sir 
Edward Carson has his way the world cannot, in 
the phrase of the hour, be made safe for democ- 
racy, since these islands will not have been made 
safe for democracy. Sir Edward, indeed, in the 
sentence I have quoted, frankly repudiated his 
loyalty either to the world or to the legislature of 
England. One of his followers, the Rev. T. L. P. 
Stack, was equally outspoken in the last year of 
the war about the attitude of the Carsonites to the 
British Empire. ^^So long as the Covenant 
stands," he declared, **our duty is to reject Home 
Rule, even if it proved the only salvation of the 
Empire." All these things might be dismissed as 
mere verbiage, the blind hysterics of the Anglo- 
Celt, were it not for the fact that during the war 
Sir Edward Carson and his politicians were as 
good as their word. Did not Sir Edward refuse 
to stand on the same platform with Mr. Redmond 
at an all-Ireland recruiting meeting in Ulster f 


Did not the Ulster representatives refnse the ex- 
travagantly generous terms of settlement offered 
to them at the Convention, although Mr. Lloyd 
George, as Prime Minister responsible for car- 
rying on the war, assured them that ''pressing 
war considerations" made a settlement an urgent 
necessity? ''A settlement, in our judgment," he 
declared, ''will materially help the successful con- 
clusion of the war." Though the urgency of an 
Irish settlement is a hundredfold greater to-day 
than it was when the Prime Minister spoke those 
words, Sir Edward Carson remains indifferent to 
all appeals. He will not budge for the sake of the^ 
world. He will not budge for the sake of the 
British Empire. He will not budge for the sake 
of England. He will not budge for the sake of 
Ireland. He is disloyal, it seems to me, north, 
south, east and west. Not consciously disloyal, I 
regret to say. If he were conscious of his egoism 
and his errors^ there would be some hope of his 
amendment. As there is apparently no hope of 
this, all that can be done is to refuse to allow him 
to play the part of a wrecker any longer, and to go 
forward with the work of settlement alike unaided 
and undeterred by the rhetoric of one to whom ttie 
will of the people and the opinion of the world are 
equal objects of contempt. 

The chief danger to an Irish settlement at the 
present moment, however, seems to me to come 
not from Sir Edward Carson, but from what may 


be described as moderate Englishmen. Many of 
these are dear-sighted enough to see that, as one 
of the consequences of a war on behalf of the small 
nations, something must be done for Ireland ; but 
they are tempted by their old pre-war prejudices 
to make that something as small as possible. They 
still believe in their hearts that the liberties of 
Ireland and the liberties of England are opposed. 
They are willing, reluctantly willing, to concede to 
Ireland the position of a province, like Quebec, or 
one analogous to that of a State in the United 
States of America. But they cannot bring them- 
selves to think of Ireland as a nation, as even Mr. 
Gladstone thought of it to some extent, and as 
Australians think of Australia. They regard 
Irish liberty as a sad necessity, not as a fine ideal. 
They are really bored by it : it is only when they 
consider how to safeguard England against its 
possible consequences that they grow interested. 
This, I contend, is a fatal spirit in which to ap- 
proach the question of an Irish settlement. Na- 
tions, no more than individuals, can become 
friends on a basis of grudging distrust. To make 
Ireland a sort of ticket-of -leave man among the 
nations, watched with suspicion and put on its 
good behaviour, is more likely to result in friction 
than in friendship. And there is no reason why 
such a blunder should be made except the old 
foolish distrust of freedom which led statesmen 
in. other days to dispute the rights of Americana 


and Canadians, of Parliaments and worMng-men, 
and, more recently, of women. G^rge-the- 
Thirdism is one of the abiding characteristics of 
human nature. It was smashed in America. It 
was smashed in Canada. It was smashed only a 
year or two ago in South Africa. But it is still 
the spirit that governs Ireland. That, I fear, is 
the origin of a great deal of the talk that is going 
on about federalism just now. The federalists 
are, for the most part, men who a few years ago 
were opposed to giving Ireland any Constitution 
at all. Now they are opposed to giving her any 
but a bad Constitution. Federalism, I am aware, 
is a word that may mean anything. The group 
of politicians which wishes to federate the British 
Empire, for instance, has no desire to deprive 
Canada, Australia and South Africa of the main 
liberties of self-respecting nations. Similarly, the 
German Empire is a federation of variously gov- 
erned States. Those who demand a federalist so- 
lution of the Irish question, however — and I regret 
to see Mr. George Barnes and Mr. J. M. Biobertson 
among the number — seem for the most part to be 
attempting to standardize a form of extended local 
government within the United Kingdom rather 
than aiming at satisfying the national aspirations 
of the Irish people, which differ from those of the 
Welsh and the Scottish peoples as cheese differs 
from chalk. Federalism, I fear, is regarded by 
the majority of its supporters — ^though not, per- 


hapsy by Mr. Barnes or Mr. Robertson— not as a 
key to open the door to Irish liberty, but as a key 
to loek the door on Irish liberty. It is Unionism's 
second line of defense. 

General Smuts, in one of the most important of 
his war speeches, uttered a warning against the 
attempt to impose a mechanical sameness of gov- 
ernment on the nations composing the British 
Empire. Speaking at the banquet given in his 
honour by members of botl^ Houses of Parliament, 
he said : 

** What I feel in regard to all the empires of the 
past, and even in regard to the United States, is 
that the effort has always been towards forming 
one nation. All the empires we have known in the 
past and that exist to-day are founded on the idea 
of assimilation, of trying to force human material 
into one mould. Your whole idea and basis is 
entirely different. You do not want to standard- 
ize the nations of the British Empire; you want 
to develop them towards greater, fuller nation- 
ality. These communities, the offspring of the 
Mother Country, or territories like my own, which 
have been annexed after the vicissitudes of war, 
must not be moulded on any one pattern. You 
want them to develop freely on the principles of 
self-government, and therefore your whole idea is 
different from anything that has ever existed be- 
fore. That is the fundamental fact we have to bear 


in mind — that this British Commonwealth of na- 
tions does not stand for standardization or dena- 
tionalization, bnt for the fnller, richer, and more 
various life of all the nations comprised in it." 

That, I beUeve, expresses perfectly what South 
Africans, Canadians and Australians feel about 
the British Empire. It also explains, incidentally, 
why the British Empire, as regards all the white 
races of which it is composed except the Irish, has 
been a marvellous success. How, then, can any 
sane Imperialist desire to violate in Ireland those 
great princiiples which have saved Imperialism-— 
though that is hardly the right name to call it by — 
in South Africa t The Irishman equally with the 
South African protests against standardization 
and denationalization. His whole history is a 
warning that he will never be a contented member 
of the British Empire, unless his country is an 
equal partner in (to repeat the words of General 
Smuts) *Hhe fuller, richer, and more various life 
of all the nations comprised in it.'' It is possible 
even that he will never be a contented member of 
the British Empire at all. 

From all the hints that have been published in 
the press, it may be inferred that the next Home 
Bule BiU will not be framed in the generous Com- 
monwealth spirit of General Smuts. If it is not, 
it is doomed to failure both as an Imperial and as 
an Irish measure. If ever there was need for the 


generous as opposed to the niggardly view in poli- 
tics, it is in Anglo-Irish politics to-day. Mr. 
Erskine Childers, who in The Framework of 
Home Rule wrote by far the most remarkable book 
that has ever been written on the Home Rule 
question, has laid it down that the only secure 
principle on which an Irish Constitution can be 
framed is that **what is best for Ireland is best 
for the Empire/' Certainly every rational Im- 
perialist believes that what is best for Australia, 
or Canada, or South Africa, is **best for the Em- 
pire/' The unity of the British Empire, so far 
as regards all the white peoples who dwell within 
it except the Irish, is a unity of common interests 
and equal liberties. The Empire would not sur- 
vive a fortnight if English statesmen behaved 
towards the Dominions in the same narrow, grudg- 
ing, suspicious spirit in which they have almost 
consistently behaved towards Ireland. The Irish 
people were offered complete self-determination 
within the Empire when Mr. Lloyd George set up 
the Convention. Having promised this, the Prime 
Minister unscrupulously withdrew his promise 
while the Convention was sitting and demanded 
that the members should not go beyond a federal 
scheme of Home Rule. This act of less than good 
faith, which passed without notice in Great 
Britain, had a disastrous effect in Ireland, turn- 
ing into doubters many of those who were expect- 
ing great things from the Convention, And later 


the threat of conscription and of a milk-and-water 
Home Bole Bill have created such a gulf between 
England and Ireland as has ^ot existed before in 
modem times at an hour when it is of more vital 
importance than ever before that the two coun- 
tries should be f riends, helping and not harrjring 
one another, allies in the work of establishing 
human liberty. Alas I that statesmen should not 
have realized long ago that sudbi a friendship and 
alliance was possible only on one condition. The 
Irish must be given the complete right of self- 
determination. They must be regarded as free 
not only by Englishmen, but by themselves. The 
first step to this happy consummation would be 
to open an Irish Parliament, in accordance with 
the Home Bule Act already on the Statute-book, 
and to invite the Irish (including the Ulstermen) 
to set to work to model a Constitution for them- 
selves. A subject Ireland can only be a source of 
political insanity and bitterness, a destructive and 
wasting influence on English as well aa Irish poli- 
tics, a peril (as Baron von Kiihlmann's visit to 
Ulster and its consequences have made clear) in 
international affairs. The British statesman who, 
realizing this, helps Ireland not only to be free, 
but to feel free, will, by at once removing a menace 
and a nuisance, help to make liberty secure in 
these Western waters and will also, I believe, con- 
siderably hasten the victory of orderly progress 
and Liberal ideals throughout the world. 



•<LiKB every other problem,'* a frigid of mine, a 
lover of compromise, said to me, ^ ^ the Irish prob- 
lem is insoluble until a serious attempt is made to 
solve it. If it is the asses' bridge of British poli- 
tics, this is because of the stubbornness of the 
asses, not because of the steepness of the bridge. 
I am not going to deny the existence of difficulties ; 
I merely deny that they are insurmountable. 

^^ There are a number of facts that must be 
clearly realized — and that do not seem to be gen- 
erally realized— in England before a good peace 
can be made with Ireland. One rather startling 
fact is that it is the Imperialists who in the past 
have killed every attempt at an Imperial settle- 
ment of the Irish question. O'ConneU, Butt, Par- 
nell, Bedmond — all in the name of the Irish people 
asked for freedom within the British Empire ; and 
the Imperialists again and again replied:. ^Cer- 
tainly not. To belong to the British Empire is 
freedom enough for a small nation. However, 
though you are a member of the family, you are 
the bla^ sheep of the family ; so we are going to 



punish your insubordmation with a Coercion 

'^The Imperialists always told themselves 
fondly that in Anglo-Irish politics it was a ques- 
tion of choosing between Home Bule and the 
Union. As a matter of fact, in Ireland — ^as in 
America and South Africa — ^the real alternative 
has always been between a policy of Home Bule 
and a policy of separation. Unionism led straight 
to separation in the American colonies. In Ire- 
land it has led, if not to separation, at least to the 
birth of the most powerful separatist movement 
that has been known in that country sinc€i;he days 
of Cromwell. Liberty men must have, and liberty 
without the liberty to choose one's own form of 
government is merely a Cabinet Minister's joke. 
If you refuse a nation liberty inside an empire, it 
will demand liberty outside the empire. The most 
cursory dip into American history ought to make 
this clear even to Mr. Austen Chamberlain. 

"If this fact is grasped clearly by British 
statesmen of all parties, the greatest of the ob- 
stacles to an Irish settlement will have been re- 
moved. For the greatest obstacle in the past has 
always been, not that Ulster stood in the way of 
a settlement, but that British statesmen encour- 
aged Ulster to stand in the way. This was due to 
various causes. It was due partly to a mistaken 
idea of patriotism which regarded the Unite^^ 
Kingdom as being all one country. The Irish 


were admitted to be different when it bepame 
Bdoessary to speak ill of them ; but even then they 
did not enjoy the status of a different nation, but 
only of a different class — children^ let us say, or 
crinunals, or imbeciles, or beggars. Apart from 
the quasi-patriotic motive, the enemies of social 
reform \^ere interested in preventing a settlement 
of the Irish problem, as they were anxious that 
the electorate should occupy its thoughts with Ire- 
land rather than with questions of land, wages and 
hours of labour. 

"Let us suppose, however, that the war has 
changed all this. Let us take for granted that it 
has taught even the most reactionary Englishman 
certain elementary truths about nationality and 
has opened his eyes to the necessity, even if not 
the desirability, of social reconstruction. He has 
on this assumption no reason to wish ill to an 
Irish settlement, and every reason to wish well to 
it. What, then, should he urge a Briti-sh Govern- 
ment to do? In view of the result of the last Con- 
vention, the suggestion may at first sight be re- 
garded as a futile one ; but it is my firm conviction 
that by far the best course for Mr. Lloyd George 
would be to summon a new Convention. The 
method of conference, it may be said, has been 
tried, and failed. As a matter of fact, the method 
of conference has not failed, since it has not been 
seriously tried. For one thing, the members of 
the last Convention were not directly chosen by 


the people. It was not an Irish Convention, bnt 
a Government Convention. No Convention con- 
sisting of delegates from sections of the commn- 
nity, Connty Council Chairmen and Government 
nominees will ever be in sufficiently vital contact 
with Irish passions and Irish realities to arrive 
at a satisfactory settlement. The late Irish Con- 
vention was, rightly or wrongly, regarded with 
suspicion by a majority of the Irish people. It 
was regarded as a piece of camouflage or window- 
dressing intended to deceive America into the be- 
lief that England had left the Irish question to 
be settled by Irishmen themselves, and to enable 
England to say to America, after the Convention 
had failed: 'Well, you see they have nobody but 
themselves to blame. They simply cannot come to 
an agreement.' This is a view that is possibly 
unfair to the mass of Englishmen who are anxious 
to get the Irish difficulty out of the way. But the 
attitude of certain sections of the Unionist Press, 
and of Mr. Bonar Law since the failure of the 
Convention, has done much to convince the most 
suspicious Sinn Feiners that their suspicions 
were justified. Anyhow, it is clear tiiat, to have 
any chance of success, an Irish Convention must, 
like CflBsar's wife, be above suspicion. Let it even 
begin to be suspected of being a ^Government 
dodge,' and' it is doomed. The only Convention 
having the remotest chance of settling the Irish 
question would be a Convention consisting of the 


Members of Parliament returned at the last elec- 
tion. Let Mr. Lloyd George summon such a con- 
ference of all the Irish representatives (Sinn Fein, 
Home Rule and Unionist), and leave it to them to 
thresh out their differences among themselves, on 
the understanding that the British Government 
accepts the principle of the right of every people 
to choose its own form of government. 

"What, then, would be the lines discussion 
would be likely to follow at such a conference? 
First, of course, the Sinn Feiners would state their 
claim to an independent Irish republic. The 
Ulster Unionists would then state their claim to 
contract out of such a republic, and they would 
claim not merely the four Unionist counties of 
Ulster, but the Nationalist counties of Tyrone and 
Fermanagh as well. Both sides having the repu- 
tation of being irreconcilable, the business of the 
conference would then seem to have reached an 
impasse. But not a bit of it. There are moderate 
men even among irreconcilables ; and one of them 
would doubtless rise in order to put some polluted 
questions at this stage. He would say: ^Let us 
take for granted the right of every people to self- 
determination. Let us take for granted both the 
right of the Irish people and the right of the 
Ulster people to self-determination. How are we 
to reconcile these two rights! Can we do it in 
this way? Shall we grant complete independence 
of choice to the four Unionist counties of Ulster 


to cut themselves out of Ireland, and complete 
independence of choice to all the rest of Ireland, 
except the f onr counties, to declare itself an inde- 
pendent republic? That seems to be the solution 
most in conformity with abstract reason. Will 
yon accept itf And at once Ulstermen, Home 
Bnlers and Sinn Feiners would roar out a unani- 
mous *No.' 

**The Ulstermen would say: *We want six, and 
we won't mix.' The Sinn Feiners and Home 
Bulers would cry out in horror at the proposal to 
divide their country, as the mother cried out when 
Solomon proposed to divide the living baby. At 
this the moderate man, instead of being disheart- 
ened, would feel his spirits rising. ' They told us,' 
he would say, Vthat Irishmen can never agree 
among themselves, and yet here we have Ireland 
absolutely unanimous. The Sinn Feiner and the 
Orangeman, who were never united before, are 
united now in rejecting a policy of complete self- 
determination for their respective parts of Ire- 
land.' And he would be so pleased with having 
united his fellow-countrymen that he would feel 
as though he had at least reached a hilltop on the 
way to the mountain-top. 

** *Well, then,' he would continue, *the Ulster- 
men negative an independent republic for all Ire- 
land. The Sinn Feiners negative a republic for 
all Ireland minus the four counties. The Na- 
tionalists, as a whole, negative the exclusion of 




six Ulster coimties. Let us see whether — complete 
self-determination having failed to produce a 
satisfactory settlement — some modified form of 
self-determination will serve us any better. ' And^ 
turning to the Sinn Feiners, he would ask: * Would 
you rathe* have an independent republic for all 
Ireland minus the four counties or a dominion 
Constitution for the whole of Ireland inside the 
British Empire?* The Sinn Fein reply would 
undoubtedly be: *We want a republican Consti- 
tution for the whole of Ireland/ * Quite so,* our 
moderate man would agree; 'but don't you see 
that, until you convert Ulster to your point of 
view, that is impossible t Convert Ulster, and you 
can agree with her to have any form* of govern- 
ment you please. Meanwhile, kindly answer my 
question. Which of the two alternatives I have 
mentioned would you prefer t Which, at any rate, 
would you hate the lesst* And it is beyond the 
shadow of a doubt that nineteen Sinn Feiners out 
of twenty would confess their preference for a 
dominion Constitution for all Ireland to even the 
most republican and separatist Constitution that 
involved partition. 

'^ Having thus persuaded the Sinn Feiners to 
state, not only their ideal solution, but their sec- 
ond best solution, pur Socratically-minded man 
would approach the Ulstermen with similar ques- 
tions. He would find it a difficult matter to get an 
answer out of them. But I think he would find 


in the end that, rather than lose Tyrone and Fer- 
managh, the Ulstermen would even agree to accept 
an antonomous Ulster State of six counties within 
an Irish dominion — ^an autonomous Ulster State 
that, if it pleased, could have its own education 
laws, and drink laws, and marriage laws. Ulster- 
men would find that, provided they conceded the 
principle of the unity of Ireland, no oiie wished to 
stand in the way of their enjoyment of full liberty 
and self-government. 

**If they merely continued to say *No' to every 
offer, on the other hand, and refused to discuss 
any second-best solution, their aforetime English 
supporters would then warn them to make terms 
while it was still possible, as there can never be 
any more support in England for an intransigent 
Ulster. Conservative statesmen, indeed, would 
tell them frankly that, if Ireland was going to 
accept the British Empire for the sake of Ulster, 
Ulster was expected to accept Ireland for the sake 
of the British Empire. They would add a hint 
as to the possibility of an English Government 
coming into power some day which would settle 
the Irish question over the heads of the Ulster- 
men. Such a settlement would not involve, of 
course, the armed coercion of Ulster, but it might 
conceivably involve the closing of English ports to 
Ulster goods and the withdrawal to the British 
Post Office from Ulster as a means of persuading 
it to ^transact.' When once Ulster saw .that it 


would pay her to come to terms with the rest of 
Ireland, and that she could get far more generous 
terms from Ireland than she could hope to get 
from an exasperated British democracy, the 
chances are that she would at least be williiig to 
try the experiment of coming into an Irish Con- 
stitution as an autonomous State for a term of 
years, reserving the right at the end of such a 
term to lay her case before the League of Nations, 
should the experiment prove unsatisfactory. 

**Such a consummation is possible, however, 
only if the Convention I suggest is left absolutely 
free. The terms of reference of the last Conven- 
tion were such that no Sinn Feiner could sit on it ; 
and Mr. Lloyd George suddenly modified them and 
made them still more unacceptable while the Con- 
vention was sitting. The new Convention should 
simply be a conference to discuss the future of 
Ireland. It would be impossible to make the terms 
of reference much more definite without alienating 
either the Ulstermen or the Siim Feiners. It 
ought, I think, however, to have power to co-opt 
a score or more of members from the outside. It 
might reasonably wish to have the assistance and 
advice of Sir Horace Plunkett, or Mr. G. W. Rus- 
sell, or Mr. Dillon, or some representative farmer 
or business man from Ulster. It would be no 
harm, either, I think, if it held its sittings in Bel- 
fast. The South would willingly go to the North 
in order to win it to the principle of a united 


Ireland. The alternative to snch a conference as 
I propose is a forcible settlement of the Irish ques- 
tion by English statesmen which will produce 
chaos both in Irish and British politics. The plan 
I have outlined will, I bejieve, produce peace in 
Ireland, prosperity in Ulster, and credit for Brit- 
ish statesmanship. It depends, however, on the 
whole-heart edness with which the former British 
supporters of Ulster recognize that it takes two 
to make a compromise, and that no satisfactory 
solution is possible which does not give the essen- 
tials of self-determination to Ireland as a whole 
equally with Ulster. I have always been firmly 
convinced of the persuadability of Ulster, if only 
her English friends had the will to persuade her." 

* ^ But you will agree, ^ ^ said I to my friend, as he 
was about to rise, **that whether Ireland is to be- 
come a republic or a dominion like Canada should 
be left entirely to the Irish people themselves to 
decide. ^ ^ 

** Certainly," he agreed. '' England has no 
more right to interfere in the internal affairs of 
Ireland than in those of France. I am merely 
suggesting a form of evacuation that will save the 
faces of all creeds and classes I" 



Ekoushmek have grown so accustomed to the 
part played by the Irish reghnents in the modem 
history of the British army that they have not 
quite realized the amazing fact that the war with 
Germany was the first war in history in which 
the Irish soldier fought qua Irishman on the same 
side as England. If one were writing the military 
history of the Irish people, one would have to 
describe a great many more battles in which the 
Irish fought against the English than those in 
which they have fought side by side with them. 
First, they fought for the independence of their 
country in Ireland itself : when tiiis was no longer 
possible, after the triumph of King William HE, 
they continued to fight against England in any 
country which would accept their services. The 
"Wild 0eese, as they were called, who sailed away 
with Sarsfield from the ruins of Limerick were 
perhaps the most noted and the most romantic 
soldiers of fortune who fought over the European 
battle-fields of the eighteenth century. They dis- 
tinguished themselves in France, in Spain, in 
Italy and in Austria, and their fame is the best, 



if the most barren, part of their country ^s history 
during that time. If the Irish in Ireland thrilled 
in those days at the names of Blenheim, Bamillies, 
Cremona, Landen and Fontenoy, it was because of 
the deeds accomplished there by Irishmen in the 
armies of European monarchs. Not that all Irish- 
men fought on the same side. After the William- 
ites had taken Limerick at the close of a resistance 
of splendid memories — Limerick, which James's 
French allies had assured him could not withstand 
a bombardment with roasted apples — ^the Irish 
regiments were marched up to a banner with the 
instruction that those who were willing to enter 
the English army should at that point wheel to 
the right, while those who preferred to sail away 
into exile should wheel in the opposite direction. 
The great majority of the soldiers preferred exile 
to submission, but a number of them went under 
the English colours, with the result that prac- 
tically every war in which England was engaged 
through the eighteenth century was a civil war so 
far as the Irish were concerned. But the soldiers 
who fought for France and the other European 
countries felt that they were fighting for Ireland 
as the soldiers in the service of England did not. 
The latter were the real soldiers of fortune. The 
others were conscious, at least, of a sort of second- 
best patriotism. Sarsfield, when he was lying 
fatally wounded on the field of Landen, cried, as 
previously related: ^*0 that this were for Ire- 



land I*' — a cry which has remained in the Irish 
imagination as the dying words, real or supposed, 
of Nelson and Pitt have remained in the English 
imagination. But none the less, it was not with- 
out bitterness that the Irish soldiers in the service 
of France found themselves fighting again and 
again against their countrymen in the English 
ranks.' At Fontenoy, where the Irish soldiers 
turned the day against the English in such a way 
as to draw from George n (unless the story is 
only IV myth) the exclamation: ** Cursed be the 
laws which deprive me of such subjects ! * ' some of 
the soldiers in the Irish Brigade were found in 
tears after the battle. When they were asked 
why, having fought so nobly, they were now 
melancholy, they replied that what they had done 
they would do again, but **it was hard they should 
have to fight against their own countrymen, some 
of them even relatives.'' **To divert attention, 
therefore, from this sad episode,'* said the Irish- 
man who described it, ^Hhe band was ordered to 
play up Patrick's Day, when the men instantly 
stafted, shouted a ^Hurrah for old Ireland!' and 
were as alert and ready for a row as ever." 

Nor does the broader-minded type of English- 
man in those days seem to have resented the Irish 
practice of enlisting in the European armies. The 
Irish of the days of William and James were, as 
Macaulay says, detested as foreigners, but they 
were regarded apparently by many Englishmen aa 


having, at least, the rights of foreigners. The 
great Anglo-Irishman, Swift, wrote to the Cheva- 
lier Wogan, famous for his squiring of the Prin- 
cess Maria Clementina: '^I cannot but highly 
esteem those gentlemen of Ireland wha, with all 
the disadvantages of being exiles and strangers, 
have been able to distinguish themselves, by their 
valour and conduct, in so many parts of Europe, 
I think, above all other nations." So true-blue 
an English Tory as Dr. Johnson enjoyed dining 
with the Irish Colonel Dromgold in Paris — ^**a 
very high man, sir, head of L'Ecole Militaire, a 
most complete character, for he had first been 
Professor of Rhetoric, and then became a sol- 
dier." This vindicator of the Irish at Fontenoy 
was also a friend of Burke, and he was praised by 
Lord Lyttelton in lines including the couplet : 

Tho' now thj valour, to thy country lost. 
Shines in the foremost ranks of Gallia's host. 

These Irish exiles, indeed, fought with courtesy 
as well as with courage — ^like Colonel O'Mahony, 
as he tried at Cremona to save the life of the 
Baron de Freiberg, who had sworn to ** perish or 
crush the Irish/ ^ Freiberg, in the impetuosity of 
the charge, arrived in the ranks of the Irish, when 
O'Mahony, anxious to save the life of a brave 
enemy, rushed forward and caught his bridle, cry- 
ing: *^Good quarter for M. de Freiberg 1'* But 
we are told that the Austrian cried out in answer: 


! **This is no day for clemency, only do your duty 

and I '11 do mine I ' ' and fought his way forward till 
he was shot. Thus the recent war was by no means 

' the first in whish Irish soldiers faced the Germans, 

and an Irish air survives to commemorate the 
event, called The Day We Beat the Germans at 
Cremona. And so the record goes on till the days 
of the French Revolution and Napoleon, under 
whose banner Wolfe Tone and Miles Byrne, and 
many another famous Irishman, enlisted them- 
selves. It was the Duke of Wellington who said of 
Wolfe Tone that he had come near being as fatal an 
enemy to England as Hannibal had been to Rome. 
It is important that this background of Irish 
history should be remembered by all who want to 
understand the spirit of the Irish soldier in the 
recent war. I do not wish unduly to romanticize 
him. One may admit that he entered the British 
army in some cases through hunger, in many as 
the cheapest form of emigration and adventure, 
and for a host of other muddled reasons. But, so 
far as the war is concerned, Irish soldiers fought 
consciously as Irish patriots in a way in which 
they never fought before. They did not echo 
Sarsfield's cry, **0 that this were for Ireland I' ' 
They took the view that, in defeating the Germans 
as at Cremona, they actually were fighting for 
Ireland. The chaplain of an Irish regiment, writ- 
ing after the first battle of Ypres, described a 
dying soldier whom he attended. ^^His side was 


torn with shrapnel, and he lay in a pool of blood. 
After being attended to spiritually, he raised his 
hand and exclaimed: *My life for old Ireland!* " 
Nor is this an isolated example of conscious Irish 
patriotism — ^patriotism which is always so much 
more self-conscious in tragic than in successful 
countries. It was not many weeks before the out- 
break of the war that the Irish Ouards were repri- 
manded for singing God Save Ireland as Mr. Red- 
mond passed the barracks in Birdcage Walk. But 
they sang the same song — a song celebrating the 
three Fenians who were hanged at Manchester in 
1867 — as they charged the Germans at Mons. No 
doubt, they varied their music with ** Early doors, 
this way*' and the other comic audacities of the 
battle-field. But the evidence of the national 
spirit of the Irish troops in crisis after crisis of 
the war, in addition to their gaiety, fidelity and 
daring, is overwhelming. One oddly rhetorical 
letter from the front from a corporal in the Irish 
Guards shows how a flamboyant national spirit 
can exist in the breast of an Irish soldier even 
alongside a flamboyant Imperialism : 

** We are British soldiers and proud of the name 
and proud to belong to the great British Empire, 
but in doing our duty for the glory and honour of 
the Empire we have always also in our minds to 
add, if we can, more lustre to the fair name of 
Erin. Our flag of green with the harp and sham- 


rock and the words ^Erin Go Bragh' is now faded 
and torn, but still loved and cherished. Talking 
about that dear old flag, I shall endeavour to 

describe how at , when the fate of the day 

seemed to waver in the balance, when the ruthless 
enemy by sheer weight of numbers was pressing 
onward at every point of vantage, that faded flag 
turned a threatened defeat into decisive victory. 
On our left were the Munsters, on our right the 
Leinsters and Connaught Rangers. All were hard 
pressed, and were about to retire, when suddenly 
from the firing line one of our comrades rushed 
out flourishing the old green flag and shouting: 
*Erin Go Bragh.' With the blood coursing fast 
through my veins, I watched with pride and ad- 
Tniration the marvellous effect produced by these 
simple words. With a mighty cheer that seemed 
to rend the heavens, and that rose and swelled 
even above the din of battle, those hard-pressed 
sons of Erin charged down on the advancing 
enemy with fixed bayonets. The Germans were 
completely staggered by this unexpected turn of 
events when victory seemed just within their 
grasp, but they were given little time for hesi- 
tation, for, to slightly alter the words of a weU- 
known Irish ballad : 

Like lions leaping at a fold. 

When mad with hunger's pang. 
Bight up against the Gennan linea 

Those Irish heroes sprang. 


The Germans turned and fled in all directions, 
completely routed and wholly disorganized. Such 
was the effect on the Irish Guards of the sight of 
their old green flag and the cry of ^Erin Go 

This letter, which I quote from Mr. James 
Milne's admirable compilation, The War Stories 
of Private Thomas Athvns, is on a level with a 
letter published from an Irish sergeant, a pris- 
oner in Germany describing the failure of the Ger- 
man attempt to persuade the Irish prisoners to 
enlist in a special Irish brigade. He said that 
his men in reply sang first God Save the King, and 
then A Nation Once Again — ^another national song 
recalling the Sarsfields and the heroes of the Irish. 

Of the courage of the Irish troops both in Galli- 
poli and in Flanders, though Mr. Redmond justly 
complained that it was insufficiently recognized at 
headquarters, it is almost superfluous to speak. 
Not that it was more remarkable than English or 
French or Scottish or German courage. But the 
courage of the various nations is probably dif- 
ferent in kind. Mr. Valentine Williams, in his 
book, With Our Army in Flanders, writes: **The 
British soldier's indifference to danger, while it 
is one of his finest qualities, is often the despair 
of his officers. The Irish regiments are the worst. 
Their; recklessness is proverbial.*' And the dar- 
ing of the Irish (10th) Division at Gallipoli was 


as notable. Captain Thornhill^ of the New 
Zealand forces, bore witness to it in a letter to 
an Irishman : 

**Your Irish fellows are the talk of the whole 
Army. To me the last few weeks have been one 
long nightmare. . . . But I must make you wise 
in regard to the doings of the Irish. Most of 
them, I believe, are 'freshies.* The Empire can do 
with a heap more *freshies' of the Irish brand. 
Their landing at Suvla Bay was the greatest thing 
that you will ever read of in books by high-brows. 
Those who witnessed the advance will never for- 
get it. Bullets and shrapnel rained on 'em, yet 
they never wavered. Officers got it here, there, 
everywhere, but the men never wavered. . . • 
God ! the men were splendid. The way they took 
the hill (now called Dublin Hill) was the Mnd of 
thing that would make you pinch yourself to prove 
it wasn't a cheap wine aftermath. How they got 
there heaven only knows. As the land lay, climb- 
ing into hell on an aeroplane seemed an easier 
proposition than taking that hill." 

One might go on for one page after another 
quoting the evidence of soldiers ' letters as to the 
spirit, at once patriotic,' romantic and fearless, in 
which Irishmen played their part in the war. I 
pass from this, however, to the discussion of the 
part they actually did play. 


ibblakd's bboqbd nr thb wab 

Ibblakd's record in the war was, from the point 
of view of the Allies, magnificent. The magnifi- 
cence of the Irish contribution to the cause of 
freedom was only less amazing than the fiood of 
calumny and beUttlement that has been consis- 
tently poured on it ever since August, 1914. Ire- 
land made a greater Voluntary contribution of 
men to the Allied forces than any other unfree 
nation in the world. That is the leading fact of 
the situation. Sir Charles Bussell, speaking at a 
Bed Cross meeting at Dublin, declared that Ire- 
land had given 250,000 men to the British army 
and navy; and this leaves altogether out of ac- 
count the equally large number of Irishmen who 
took part in the war in the Australian, Canadian 
and American armies. If these are added in, we 
need not hesitate to accept Mr. John Bedmond's 
estimate that 500,000 Irishmen fought in the ranks 
of the Allies for the liberty of the world. At the 
same time Ireland was second only to America 
itself in the supplies of food she sent to England 
during the perilous years of the war. Had it not 
been for the assistance rendered by Ireland, both 



in men and f ood-stnffs, it is doubtful whether the 
Allies would have been able to force Germany to 
submission so soon. This is not to claim that 
Ireland did more in proportion than any other 
country. It is to claim merely that she was a 
necessary link in the great chain of the Allied 
success. He would be a knave and a fool who 
would attempt to disparage the sacrifices of 
France and England, of tortured Belgium and tor- 
tured Serbia. He would be equally a knave and 
fool, however, who, having accepted the services 
of half-a-million Irish doldiers and sailors, would 
pretend that Ireland did not make an immense and 
unforeseeable contribution to the victory of the 
Allies, and who would reward the Irish dead with 
a weak sneer about the abundance of butter in 
Ireland in war time. 

It may be asked why, these things being so, has 
the average Englishman been allowed to get the 
idea that Ireland stood aside and sulked during 
the war. Some people think that the insurrection 
of 1916 is chiefly to blame. Well, there were not 
enough Irishmen in the Dublin insurrection of 
1916 to make up even one battalion of the Irish 
Guards. One was told at the time that the Dublin 
insurgents numbered about a thousand. One has 
learned since then that they were hardly more 
than six hundred. Clearly, if Ireland's freedom 
is to depend upon whether her services to the 
Allies have outweighed her disservices, she has 


earned her freedom about a thousand tunes over. 
For every Irishman who shouldered a rifle on the 
insurgent side, nearly a thousand Irishmen bore 
weapons on the side of the Allies. I doubt if one 
Englishman in a hundred thousand realizes this. 
If they did, they would insist on seeing that their 
Irish allies had a free Parliament restored to 
them. Never was the need for a national govern- 
ment proved more completely. Had Irdand pos- 
sessed a national government during the war, she 
would have had an organ for making known her 
services to the civilized world. Canada, Australia 
and South Africa have but to speak of what they 
have done, and all the world listens. The Times, 
and the Press in general, pay deference to them as 
free nations that command respect. South Africa 
has not contributed nearly so many men to the 
Allied armies as Ireland has done, but, luckily for 
herself. South Africa is free, and even her most 
malignant enemy of the old days dares not criti- 
cize her gift. She too, like Ireland, had a small 
insurrection; but, even after this, she escaped 
calumny. She too has been divided in opinion as 
to the war — ^f ar more so, indeed, than Ireland was 
before the malevolence of the anti-Irish authori- 
ties had had time to destroy the people's enthu- 
siasm for Belgium. '*It is an tmfortunate fact,*' 
said Mr. Merriman in the early part of 1918, **that 
we in South Africa are for our sins riven into two 
factions of ahnost equal strength. Almost one- 


half of the European population is coldly neutral 
towards the issue which we look upon'as vital, if, 
indeed, |;hey are not positively hostile to the cause 
of the Allies/* And yet South Africa is free. If 
there is any coldness towards the Allies, it is on 
account of past wrongs. In Ireland, on the other 
hand, if there is any coldness towards the Allies, 
it is chiefly on account of present wrongs. Some 
months ago, when a dinner was given in honour 
of Mr. Burton, the Minister of Mines in South 
Africa, Mr. Asquith in a speech mentioned the 
numbers of the South African forces who had 
served in the war. The Times, for some reason or 
other, omitted the figures in its report. One won- 
dered at the time whether this was because 
they made Ireland's contribution seem so immense 
by comparison. The Times was content to give 
the report of the dinner some general apprecia- 
tive heading such as ** Loyal South Africa.'' It is 
more exigent in regard to Ireland. English 
statesmen, it is clear, have also one standard for 
South Africa and another for Ireland. Mr. 
Burton, we are told, related to the assembled 
guests the story of a wounded Boer soldier who 
said that he wished to get to France in order to 
repay the gift of free institutions to his country. 
He went on to say that the soldier 's eye brightened 
as he added: ^*I would not have raised one single 
hand for the Empire if the Empire had refused 
tp establish in my country that freedom which 


South Africa now enjoys." It is said that Mr. 
Austen Chamberlain and other representative 
statesmen who were present cheered this remark- 
able saying of the Boer soldier. By what fatality 
is it that they are unable to see that Irishmen are 
human beings, with the same passions as Boers T 
Qeneral Botha wrote to Mr. Redmond to say that 
he agreed with him that South Africa's services 
to the Allies were simply the fruit of the conces- 
sion of national freedom. Yet, even without 
national freedom, and as a pure act of faith, Ire- 
land poured her sons into the trenches in the 
most critical days of the war and helped to hold 
the line at its weakest for what then seemed to be 
the world's freedom. 

Let me say again that I do not make these com- 
parisons in order to belittle the services of any 
other nation, but only to show up Ireland's serv- 
ices in the war in a true light. Most of the free 
nations have published a list of their dead and 
wounded soldiers. Let us have a full list of the 
dead and wounded Irish soldiers, so that we may 
judge how great have been the sacrifices made by 
Ireland. Has Japan contributed as many dead as 
Ireland? She has not. Yet Japan is praised. 
Has New Zealand contributed as many t She has 
not. Yet New Zealand is praised. Has South 
Africa? Has Canada? Canada has a greater 
population than Ireland. Yet, if figures were to 
be had, I am confident it could be shown that far 


fewer Canadian-bom men than Irish-bom men 
have fallen in the war. Captain Esmonde, MP., 
said in the House of Commons : "I have seen my- 
self, buried in one grave, 400 Nationalist soldiers 
killed in one fighf — ^two-thirds as many as the 
total number of the Dublin insurgents of Easter 
week. And that mournful spectacle was being re- 
peated not after one fight, but after fifty during 
the war. In the most desperate days of the war 
— at Mons and at the Mame — ^Irishmen were pres- 
ent at the thickest of the fighting, and battalion 
after battalion gave itself up to the slaughter, 
singing The Bold Fenian Men, A Nation Once 
Again, and other songs of the kind that the police 
nowadays suppress with baton charges in Ireland. 
At the beginning of the war a battalion of the 
Irish Guards mutinied. It was because it had been 
rumoured that they were not being sent to the 
Front. The Irish Guards, it will be remembered, 
had been reprimanded at the time of the Bucking- 
ham Palace Conference for cheering Mr. Redmond 
on his way down Birdcage Walk. I knew a soldier 
in the Irish Guards — ^now dead — ^who declared 
that his battalion called themselves '^Bedmond's 
Own.** Well, they are dead, and so are the Bed- 
monds, and Sir Edward Carson and Mr. Bonar 
Law have made the glorious sacrifice of surviving 
to perpetuate the subjection of Ireland. One is 
not surprised to hear of the Nationalist soldier 
back from the Front who said to Mr, Dillon : ^*Mr. 


Dillon, the worst of it is I know now that we are 
not fighting for liberty, for England is going to 
betray ns/' Englan<^ with the help of Labour 
one hopes, is going to do nothing of the sort ; bnt 
Mr. Bonar Law, Mr. Shortt and Mr. MacPherson, 
so far as they are able, have already made the 
great betrayal Anti-Irish influences have for the 
moment triumphed, and Ireland is held up to con- 
tempt as a sullen shirker to all the free nations of 

Mr. Lloyd George admitted, in the days follow- 
ing the insurrection, the malignity of the anti- 
Irish influences that had been at work among the 
English official classes in the early days of the 
war. This malignity has been shown by nothing 
more clearly than by the nature of the anti-Irish 
propaganda carried on by propagandists in the 
United States. The misrepresentation of Ireland 
to the United States could not have been more 
vehement if Ireland had been fighting for the 
Germans instead of for the Allies. If an Ameri- 
can soldier, going ashore in Ireland, got into a 
drunken row that ended in a fight, the incident was 
telegraphed to America as if it were an unpro- 
voked assault on the American flag by Irish 
Nationalists. And what can be said of the egre- 
gious statements about Ireland made in Mr. ^^lan 
Hay's'^ propaganda book pubUshed in America 
and exposed by Mr. Devlin in the House of Com- 
mons t Irishmen ask themselves whether an Eng- 


lish Govemineiit that meant to deal honestly by 
Ireland would actually pay for the spread of anti- 
Irish feeling in America. It seemed to me*^ at the 
beginning of the war that England was now about 
to take the attitude before the world: **Well, we 
have done wrong in the past; but we are now 
going to liberate the small nations of the world — 
Ireland among them/' Instead of that, English 
propaganda, so far as it has related to Ireland, 
has largely been occupied with an attempt to show, 
not that England has at last admitted the justice 
of the cause of Ireland, but that, comparatively 
speaking, England's attitude to Ireland is satis- 
factory and just. Every other Allied country ex- 
cept Ireland has been glorified in pamphlet after 
pamphlet. Ireland alone has been maligned. 
One pamphlet was published to show that the 
English do not behave as badly in Ireland as the 
Germans in Poland. On grounds of this kind 
nearly any country might be denied its freedom. 
One can usually find some other country whic}i, in 
some respect or other, has suffered still worse 

Here, then, is the plain truth about Ireland. 
Some powerful influences, which have always 
hated the thought of Irish freedom, have devoted 
themselves resolutely to the denigration of Ire- 
land since the beginning of the war. Why, the 
story of the heroic deeds of the Iiish regiments 
at Gallipoli was suppressed until Mr. Bedmond 


raised a storm about them, after the troops df 
every other nation had been given fnll credit 
And today people who are praising the Czecho- 
slovaks and the Poles — ^both of whom fought 
(under compulsion) against the Allies by the fifty 
tiiousand — ^are to be found denouncing the Irish, 
who contributed an immense and vitally necessary 
army to the cause of the Allies. One rejoices in 
the freedom that is coming to the Poles and the 
Bohemians. But Ireland, too, has some little 
claim on the attention of statesmen in these years 
of liberation. As she thinks of her dead, lying 
in a world of graves in Flanders, Gallipoli and 
Mesopotamia, she may well (adapting the lines of 
Mr. Kipling) cry out, in the agony of her soul : 

If blood be thA price of nationality. 
Good God, we ha' paid in full. 

In this hour of the institution of the League of 
Nations, let not the great deeds of this ^ttle nation 
be forgotten. 



One of the tragic possibilities of the war alwayB i 
was that the soldiers might sacrifice their lives for . 
an ideal and that the politician might afterwards 
make nse of their sacrifices to violate this ideal. 
It is impossible, I admit, to estimate the number- 
of idealists who turned themselves into soldiers^ 
in the war against Germany, or even to be sure of ( 
the exact formula of their idealism. On one 
point, however, one feels confident ; never in any 1 
previous war did so many of the soldiers con- 1 
sciously fight for ideal ends. These ends may, 
for the most part, be resolved into a single pur- 
pose — ^the substitution of generosity for greed, 
bullying and cruelty in the intercourse of nations. 
One might almost describe the chief object of the 
war, from the point of view of idealistic soldiers, 
to be the Christianization of foreign policy. That, 
certainly, was the object for which Professor 
Kettle gave his life, though by "foreign policy" 
he would have understood something more than 
the term conveys to the average Englishman. He 
would have meant by it not only the policy of one 
independent nation towards another but the policy 



of a dominant nation towards the nations subject 
to it. His demand was not merely that Germany 
should behave finely to Belgium, but that England 
should behave finely to Ireland ; it was even that 
Ireland should behave finely to England. Though 
the last man in the world one could mistake for a 
Utopian, he deliberately went out to the trenches 
in order to help to lay the foundations of a new 
world. **I want to live . . .,'* he wrote home 
from Prance, **to use all my powers of thinking, 
writing and working to drive out of civilization 
this foul thing called War, and to put in its place 
understanding and comradeship.'' On another 
occasion he wrote: **If God spares me, I shall 
accept it as a special mission to preach love and 
peace for the rest of my life. ' ' And in almost his 
last letter he put his passionate faith in two 
deadly sentences: ** Unless you hate war, as such, 
you cannot really hate Prussia. If you admit 
war as an essential part of civili^tion, then what 
you are hating is merely Prussian eflB.ciency.'' 

Some people may think that these sentiments 
would be more in place in the mouth of a Consci- 
entious Objector than of a soldier — ^a soldier, 
moreover, who was not a pressed man, but a vol- 
unteer. Kettle knew that his position was para- 
doxical. **We are gripped,'' he wrotjB, in The 
Ways of War, **in the ancient bloodiness of that 
paradox which bids us kill life in order to save, 
life." He did not believe, like a militarist, in 


war; but he believed, like many a pacifist, in the 
last war. The militarist is a man who believes in 
war if it may be ; the pacifist is a man who believes 
^ in war if it must be. Not that Kettle, or any other 
pacifist, could ever accept the theory that war is, 
at any time, an inevitable occurrence. 

"There is*' (he wrote) **a sort of pietism, 
hardly distinguishable from atheism, to which war 
appears as a sort of natural calamity. . . . War 
is not a calamity of nature, and there are no * in- 
evitable wars. ' Or, rather, the only war inevitable 
is a war against aggression, and aggression itself 
is never inevitable.'* 

Certainly, nothing but the necessity of protest- 
ing against aggression at aU costs could ever have 
turned Kettle into a soldier in the British army. 
England has for seven centuries governed Ireland 
by the sword. Hence Irish Nationalists have 
always regarded the army as an instrument of 
English domination over their country, and there- 
fore as no place for a patriotic Irishman. Kettle, 
as a student in Dublin, had distributed anti-re- 
cruiting leaflets in the streets. On entering poli- 
tics, he tried to persuade Mr. Redmond to include 
anti-enlistment in the program of the Irish Party. 
He was considered at that time to be more in 
sympathy with Sinn Fein than any other of Mr. 
Redmond's followers. And, if he died in the uni- 


form of a British soldier, it was not that he had 
oast off his inherited Nationalism. Just as it was 
his Nationalism which had made him all his life 
protest against English aggression in Ireland, so 
it was his Nationalism which made him protest 
against German aggression in Belgium. He was 
quite free from the sort of Nationalism which is 
simply self-absorption applied to one's country. 
His Nationalism was international. He could not 
content himself with catch-words, such as '^ Eng- 
land is the enemy," ** Germany is the enemy," or 
* * Basutoland is the enemy. ' ' He saw that, tiiough 
any of these statements may be true for a time, 
none of them is true for all time. They are not 
philosophic or universal truths. They may sound 
impressive enough at the street-comer or in a 
leading article. But men do not die for such 
things. At least, philosophers do not. It was 
the philosophic basis of Kettle's Nationalism 
which enabled him to see at the beginning of the 
present war that the principles in which he be- 
lieved were most terribly threatened, not by Eng- 
land but by Germany. In July, 1914, he was in 
Belgium buying rifles for his fellow-Nationalists. 
In August he took the view that the battle-field of 
Nationalism was transferred from the Liffey to 
Belgium, and the change of scene did not mean 
for him a change of ideal. As Mrs. Kettle says : 
* ' It was as an Irish soldier in the army of Europe 
and civilization that he entered the war." 


Major Redmond's was a less snbtle and philoso- 
phic nature than Kettle's. He was the incama- 
tion, not of philosophic ^^good Europeanism" but 
of impulsive chivalry. His widow relates that he 
took the war so deeply to heart that for a long 
time he refused even to look at a newspaper. **If 
I'm too old to fight," he said, **at least I will not 
sit comfortably in an arm-chair and read what 
other men are doing and suffering." After the 
first Zeppelin raid, he decided he could remain 
a non-combatant no longer. Although in his fifties 
and by no means robust in health, he applied for a 
commission in the army. ^^I am far too old to be 
a soldier," he said, **but I mean to do my best 
for whatever life remains in me to show that Ire- 
land at least is true to her treaties, and not in any 
way ungrateful to her friends throughout the 
world." As a friend has written of him: **To 
one of his political principles the donning of the 
British uniform was a moral effort." To fight 
for one's country is noble; to fight for the op- 
pressor of one's country is surely nobleness in its 
most difficult form. Both Redmond and Kettle, of 
course, believed that in fighting for England in the 
war they were fighting for Ireland. But, with 
Dublin Castle still in power and still as brutally 
cynical as ever, this was by no means self-evident. 
It required not only a fine moral sense, but a 
generous imagination to realize it. Even after 
they had thrown themselves heart and soul into 


the war, there was much that happened which 
must have tried their faith. Who but a politiciaii 
can ever forget that last speech of Major Red- 
mond's in the House of Commons, which was like 
a hero's dying cry of despair t Speaking on a 
motion to put the Home Bnle Act into immediate 
operation, he exclaimed, almost in an agony of 
emotion: '^In God's name, why cannot yon do 
itt " It was an appeal, one would have thought, 
that would move even a Cabinet Minister. Major 
Bedmond had not been in his grave three months, 
however, when Sir Edward Carson was sending 
telegrams to the Australian Orangemen, en- 
couraging them to continue the fight against Irish 
freedom, and was publicly accepting as a ^t a 
model of the yacht which had landed the fatal 
arms of the gun-runners at Lame, and so helped 
to precipitate Europe into war. Sir Edward 
Carson, it has often seemed to me, has a nature 
closely resembling the Kaiser's. Egoistic, the- 
atrical in a tawdry way, with the sort of personal 
magnetism that is always sure of cheers and that 
makes men ready to follow him to the death in an 
unjust cause, hysterical, self-deceiving, a hero of 
clergymen — ^had the Kaiser been an Anglo-Irish- 
man and Sir Edward Carson a German, I do not 
believe that the course, of European history dur- 
ing the last three or four years would have been 
appreciably different. Sir Edward, like the 


Kaiser, owes some reparation to this tortured 

Kettle dreaded the triumph of the Carsons, as 
we see in his writings, not only as regards Ireland 
but as regards the wholesale degradation of the 
objects of the war. In his essay, Trade or 
Honour?, he made a protest of splendid 
eloquence against everything for which the 
Paris Besolutions stand. ^^An attempt is 
being made,*' he warns us, *^ to transform 
what began as a war for honour into a war 
for trade'*: 

'^Powerful intriguers of unbounded assurance 
are sedulous behind the backs of the fighting men, 
scheming to run up new flags in the place of the 
old. The inscription * Justice' is to be hauled 
down, and 'Markets' is to be hoisted in its stead. 
In pursuance of that new object the powerful in- 
novators are ready to extend far beyond their 
natural term the torture and agony which are now 
the sole realities of Europe. They are willing, for 
the accomplishment of it, to ordain that the blood 
of better men shall drip indefinitely into the cis- 
tern of Gehenna. And since it is the followers and 
gamblers at home, and not the silent trench- 
fellows of death at the Front, that exercise most 
influence on national policy, it is to be feared that 
the former may prevail. Assuredly protest is a 
matter of obligation." 


Later on in the same chapter^ he piats the matter 
in a sentence: 

'^The New Army attested to die, if need he, for 
the pnblic law of Enrope : there was no mention of 
tariffs in the bond'' 

Kettle, it will be seen, was Liberal as well as 
NationaUst in his enthnsiasms. Bnt it was as an 
exponent of Nationalism that he earned his great- 
est fame. He was a natural orator in his writings 
as in his speech. No one bnt an orator conld have 
written that rich passage in The Open Secret of 
Ireland which portrays Ireland as not a conquered 
nation, but a nation marching towards victory. 
How far it soars above the level of contemporary 
eloquence ! 

^' Tears, as we read in Wordsworth, to human 
suffering are due. If there be any one with tears 
at command, he may shed them, with great fitness 
and no profit at all, over the martyrdom of Ire- 
land. But let him, at least if he values facts, think 
twice before he goes on to apply to her that other 
line which speaks of human hopes defeated and 
overthrown. No other people in the world has 
held so staunchly to its inner vision; none other 
has, with such fiery patience, repelled the hostility 
of circumstances, and in the end reshaped them 
after the desire of her heart. Hats off to success. 


gentlemen! Yonr modem god may well be 
troubled at the sight of this enigmatic Ireland 
which at once despises him and tumbles his f aith- 
fnllest worshippers in the sand of their own 
amphitheatre. Yet, so it is. The Confederate 
general, seeing victory snddenly snatched from 
his hands, and not for the first time, by Meagher's 
Brigade, exclaimed in immortal profanity: * There 
comes that danmed green flag again 1' I have 
often commended that phrase to Englishmen as 
admirably expressive of the historical role and 
record of Ireland in British politics. The danmed 
green flag flutters again in their eyes, and if they 
will but listen to the music that marches with it, 
they will find that the lamenting fifes are domi- 
nated wholly by the drums of victory.** 

There is the music of national faith in these sen- 
tences. It is for this faith that tens of thousands 
of Irish soldiers sacrificed their lives in the war 
against Germany. 



Bqblavd marched for many generations nnder the 
green flag. This became (despite Kettle) an em- 
blem of def eat, however — even of humiliation, for 
the withholding of Home Bnle affected the most 
moderate of Irishmen like the rebuff of a prof- 
fered handshake. Pamell always hated green as 
an unlucky colour. Whether it is or not, Ireland 
has apparently had enough of it. Her young men 
and women have in the past two years taken a new 
flag and a new national aiithem. Their flag is now 
Ithe orange-white-and-green tricolour, and their 
song is The Soldiers' Song. 

Dublin Castle does not quite know what to do 
about it. There is a minority of exceptionally 
well-fed persons whose flag is the Union Jack and 
whose anthem is Ood Save the King, and these 
people heatedly call on Dublin Castle to preserve 
order. By preserving order they mean cracking 
the skull of anyone who sings The Soldiers' Song 
and precipitating bodies of policemen and sol- 
diers, armed with bludgeons and bayonets, upon 
every little crowd that happens to raise the 
orange-white-and-green flag. It is difficult to dis- 



tingaish this view of order from the theory of 
terrorism. The preservation of order means noth- 
ing to the partisan save a free hand for violence 
on one's own side. 

Dublin Castle on the whole prefers to rule by 
threat rather than by deed. Liberty Hall, for 
instance, the headquarters of the Irish Transport 
Workers' Union, is opposite a railway bridge 
which is guarded by armed sentries. Recently an 
iron structure has been raised above the parapet 
of the bridge with a machine gun emplacement 
and an arrangement of loopholes through which 
rifles could fire straight into the windows of the 
most important trade union in Ireland. So long 
as the rifles do not go off, however, it is possible 
for a casual visitor to Dublin on a sunny day to 
feel that this is the best of all possible worlds, 
with nothing to complain about but the noise of 
the trams. People do not walk along the streets 
in actual chains, nor are babes-in-arms transfixed 
on the points of bayonets by passing soldiers. In 
these respects, at least, life in contemporary Ire- 
land bears a resemblance to life In the Golden 

When the Irish- American delegates arrived in 
Dublin last May, Dublin Castle stood aside at first. 
The delegates drove up to the Mansion House in 
taxis from which the orange-white-and-green tri- 
colour was flying on the right hand and the stars- 
and-stripes on the left. Every evening, as they 


returned from their travels, they were met at the 
railway station by the same beflagged taxis, which 
would then proceed slowly through the streets, 
surrounded by a bodyguard, followed by a brass 
band playing The Soldiers* Song: 

Soldiers are we; 

Onr liyee are pledged to Ireland-^ 

an army of Volunteers in civilian clothes, and a 
dense mass of sight-seers. This was all done in 
defiance of the law, which forbids processions, and 
an occasional Volunteer even risked court-martial 
by appearing in uniform. It was important, how- 
ever, to give the American delegates the impres- 
sion that they were on a visit to a free country; 
and so the law slept, and good order reigned. On 
the second evening a long file of policemen, the 
white metal of their helmets making them look 
like a musical-comedy chorus of Prussians in the 
darkness, marched quickly behind the crowd ; but 
the next night there was not a policeman to be 
seen on the route of the procession, and half 
Dublin trooped after the Bepublican flags and the 
Republican tunes to the fashionable Unionist 
square where the delegates stayed. They cheered 
Bepublican speeches made from a balcony under 
a huge tricolour, and then went home as quietly 
as if they had been coming out of a Sunday school. 
On the Friday, again, the Dail Eireann, as the 
Bepublican Parliament is called, met in the Bound 


Boom of the Mansion House, and once more the 
police stood aside, while Volunteers with white 
helmets discharged the duties assigned to police- 
men in ordinary free States. Everything seemed 
quiet to the point of dulness. I met one man who 
had just left the Mansion House, and he com- 
plained bitterly of the dulness of some of the 
speeches. I was all the more astonished on turn- 
ing into Dawson Street between five and six 
o'clock to find cordons of huge policemen throw- 
ing themselves across the street and soldiers in 
trench helmets and fuU kit marching in columns 
towards the Mansion House, with a fleet of motor 
lorries (more crowded than the wooden horse of 
Troy) following, out of which other soldiers 
poured, carrying monstrous-looking machine 
guns. The police said that I could not pass ; but 
on my protesting that I lived in Dawson Street, 
one of them said genially: '^Well, go ahead, but 
if you're bluflSng, you're done for; and you can't 
get out at the other end." As another company 
of soldiers swept up to the pavement, a lady at my 
side ran up to them and said: ^^Whj don't you 
fight for liberty in this country! "Why don't 
you fight for liberty in this country! " She went 
up to a young officer in trench helmet and passion- 
ately put the same question to him. He looked 
slightly taken aback, but replied with a smile: 
**My dear lady, I'm only a soldier obeying 
orders." By this time the throb of the motor 


lorries, the tramp of marching feet, and the click 
of bayonets being fixed filled the street with the 
preliminary din of war. No one knew what was 
happening. People said that the Republican Par- 
liament was being suppressed on account of some 
inflammatory speeches. Others said that the 
public reception arranged by the Lord Mayor 
at the Mansion House for that evening had been 
prohibited. An officer came up to a group of 
people near me and said it was ^'only a demon- 
stration. ' ' "Whatever may have been the purpose 
of it ally the street was now held at each end by a 
cordon of policemen. A few yards behind this 
came a row of soldiers with &Ked bayonets. A 
few yards behind this, again, came more soldiers 
with fixed bayonets. An armoured car with the 
nose of a gun projecting threateningly started 
every few minutes with a grunt and sailed up and 
down the streets. Beyond the police and soldiers 
a crowd was now gathering and singing The Sol- 
diers^ Song and other seditious airs. As each 
song came to an end they cheered defiantly. At 
the end of one chorus the soldiers rattled their 
rifle butts derisively on the stones, but an officer 
called out angrily: ^^Stop that." Singing and 
cheering went on in this fashion, while the crowd 
increased ; and every time the armoured car went 
off on its minatory prowl there was a volmninous 
boo. An old woman ran out of a house crying: 
''This is going to be worse than the rebellion^" 

.. ..atJ" 


**Prus8ianismI'' declared a little man with a 
rough moustache. ^* Here's Prassianism for 
you!*' Meanwhile tramcars were still allowed to 
pass along the street, each with a crowd of people 
standing on the roof , angry and amazed. A 
travelling musician who happened to be on one 
tram had his trumpet with him ; and, as he passed 
through the soldiers, he raised it to his lips and 
blew a defiant Come to the Coolchouse Door — 
which set both soldiers and Bepublicans laughing. 
An oflBcer assured some people in a doorway 
that nothing was going to happen. He protested 
good-naturedly against a comparison an onlooker 
made between the British army in Ireland and the 
Germans in Belgium. **You surely don't think 
we're like the Huns!" he said. He declared that 
no English soldier had any but friendly feelings 
towards the Irish. **You know," he said, **you 
people often complain about Oliver Cromwell. 
But we dislike Oliver Cromwell as much as you 
do. After all, we got rid of him as soon as we 
could, didn't wef " During the evening another 
o£Gicer came up and expressed his bewilderment as 
to the cause of the trouble betw;een the English 
and the Irish. I said to him that it all arose from 
England's incapacity to see that the Irish were a 
nation like the Poles and Bohemians. *^I hope 
not like the Poles," he said, with a distressed air. 
While he was speaking a tiny mouse, terrified by 
the continuous singing, cheering and Qlamour, ap- 


peared in the street and rushed off down, the 
gatter with its tail up. A soldier in heavy boots 
ran after it and attempted to trip it. He thrust 
at it with his bayonet, and it turned and fled 
across the street. Half-a-dozen other soldiers 
made at it with their bayonetSy scuMng for it like 
men playing hockey, and laughing uproariously. 
As soon as the o£Scer saw what they were doing, 
he curtly told them to stop; but the mouse lay 
dead on the stones. Strange that a man should 
find pleasure in bayoneting a mouse ! 

Suddenly the crowd ceased singing and began 
to cheer and wave arms rapturously, and a taxi 
flying the Sinn Fein colours was received into its 
bosom. Other cars and motors had already ar- 
rived, with people in evening dress waiting to be 
admitted to the Mansion House. A police in- 
spector put up his hand and brought the Sinn Fein 
taxi to a halt. At first it seemed as if the crowd 
was eager to rush the taxi through the police and 
soldiers, but the American delegates got out and 
approached the police on foot. As the crowd be- 
hind them became more excited and urgent, some 
of the soldiers in the front rank raised their rifles 
into the air, and a shot rang out. Some people 
declare that only a ** slap-bang*' was discharged, 
but the rifles were certainly pointed skywards at 
the time, and the effect was that of a rifle shot. 
Some of the onlookers on the outskirts of the 
crowd ran backwards, but the crowd as a whole 


pressed forward, cheering angrily and singing 
The Soldiers' Song and shonting for the Republic. 
Officers, police and American delegates stood in 
the middle of the road arguing — and thousands of 
guests waited, wondering whether they were going 
to a war or a tea-party. 

At last the Americans were passed through the' 
police cordon amid yells of triumph ; but as Mr. 
de Valera and their other hosts were forbidden to 
accompany them, they returned to the side of the 
taxi. Then followed more arguments with mili- 
tary and police officers, the armoured .car com- 
manding the mouth of the street. After some time 
it was clear that the guests were to be allowed 
through. Out of the crowd a number of volunteer 
stewards appeared and passed like a rope round 
the edge of their followers. The soldiers drew up 
and unfixed their bayonets. The men with the 
machine-guns tumbled out of the alley where they 
had been waiting and scrambled into the motor 
lorries. They began to move off amid the boos of 
the crowd. To the crowd it had all the appearance 
of a flight. Soldiers and police withdrew, and the 
Sinn Fein colours drove through, a host of cheer- 
ing men and women pouring after them, carrying 
the volunteer stewards before them like driftwood 
on a wave. What all the trouble had been about 
no one in the crowd knew; but there was not a 
child present who did not believe that Sinn Fein 
had routed the British army. Mr. Macpherson 


explains that this imposing display of bayonet, 
machine gun and armoured car had for its object 
the arrest of a single Sinn Fein Member of Parlia^ 
ment. Whatever the object may have been, the 
result was merely to give the American visitors an 
unusually vivid spectacle of methods of terrorism 
in Ireland and to bring ridicule on the British 
army. The whole display might be described as an 
immense success for Sinn Fein. So generally was 
this felt that an officer expressed his belief to me 
the next day that the Sinn Feiners had deliber- 
ately planned it for the sake of the American 
visitors, and had played a hoax for this purpose 
on the Dublin police. It would be amusing to 
think so, but the comedy of Irish life is not, I am 
afraid, a comedy of '^ practical joking" Sinn 
Feiners, but a comedy of the stupidity of General 
Shaw and Mr. Macpherson. Never was The Sol- 
diers^ Song played with greater gusto than by the 
band at the Lord Mayor's reception that evening. 
True, a mouse lay dead outside in Dawson Street. 
Otherwise there was no shadow cast on the fes- 
tivities of the occasion. 



It must have been twelve or thirteen years since I 
had marched out with the Orangemen to celebrate 
the battle of the Boyne, or whatever it is, at a 
Twelfth of July demonstration. Then it was 
along the dusty road from Belfast to Lambeg that 
I went a pilgrim. On the eve of the war I saw 
the great procession among the hedges and hills of 
the south of County Down — ^not far from Kilkeel, 
the capital village, as you might call it, of the old 
kingdom of Moume. A traveller in the country- 
side on the eve of the Twelfth might have won- 
dered at the manner in which every white house- 
front seemed to be shining like the lamp of a wise 
virgin. He would have learned that the whitening 
and cleansing of the houses at the approach of 
the Twelfth is an inherited ritual in these parts. 
He would have noticed, too, with interest, the 
orange lily rising like a spirit of flame among the 
marigolds and pansies and poppies and roses by 
hundreds of Protestant doors. And at night, 
when the jackdaws had fallen down the chimneys 
into their nests and the very stillness had gone 
asleep, he would have heard the air suddenly in- 


vaded by a rout of thwaddxigs — ^a leaping lieels- 
over-head procession of dang and clatter, as 
thongh a race of traction engines dragging loads 
of loose and empty milk cans were taking place 
down stony roads. That was the voice of the 
dmnu No shrillness of fife, no sweetness of flute, 
shared the night with its argoments. It reigned 
as supreme as thunder while it lasted. In its 
rhythm, however, it was less like thunder than a 
cosmic dog-dance with the orchestra silent. 
There are some people, I befieve, who can find no 
rhythm at all in drum music. In Belfast we used 
to interpret its measured utterance as: ^' There 
are no public-houses on the Lambeg Boad." Per- 
sonally I have always been a lover of the drum. 
It seems to me to be, not an instrument of 
threatening and outrage, as so many hold, but an 
instrument of summoning to good company. Cer- 
tainly in Kilkeel it has never had any left-handed 
significance. Here, and in the surrounding dis- 
trict, the population is almost equally divided be- 
tween Protestants and Catholics, yet the drum has 
never been known to set them fighting together. 
They say that party fighting is as rare as poT^erty 
in the neighbourhood, and that poverty simply 
does not exist. Even if one demurs to this until 
one has had a satisfactory definition of poverty, 
one cannot question that here is a comer of 
Ulster whidi is as unlike the Ulster that the week- 
end correspondents of the London Unionist 


papers discover as paradise is anlike Dante's In* 
f emo on the cinematograph. 

Into this fishing village under the mountains the 
morning of the Twelfth came like the peace of 
God. Over the wide central street a single arch 
hnng in greeting to the day. It was a rope of 
orange lilies mixed with red and blue flowers : a 
gold Bible with a crown planted on it swung from 
the middle^ and on each side of this was a row of 
tiny blue, white and red peimons, point down- 
wards, with a silver star hanging from nearly 
every point, while a little ladder, a cardboard 
King William on a white horse, a cross, a pair of 
compasses, and various other symbols, dangled as 
from a Christmas tree. It was as charming as a 
bridge of toys. There were no other public deco- 
rations. The shops were all open as usual, but 
there was more than the usual sprinkling of sight- 
seers hanging about the doors. There was an 
unusual number of country girls out, too, dressed 
in the flower of the fashion, and of children in 
their Sabbath clothes. Here and there an orange- 
and-blue rosette hid a button-hole ; here and there 
a full-blown Orangeman moved along the pave- 
ment, with his sash putting a hoop of colour round 
his blue Sunday coat. Orange lilies were worn, 
but not universally. Probably the Catholics of 
the town, as well as the Protestants, were in the 
streets to see the festival of banner and drum go 
by on its aimual way. When I arrived at the chief 


cross-roads of the village the local Orange lodges 
had apparently already set ont into the country 
to meet a number of outlying lodges and give them 
the company of their flags and music along part 
of the road. It is a charming office of hospitality 
the lodges pay to each other. Before long they 
came back, a dozen pr so of them, towards the 
sea, a tumult of painted banners marching down 
the street, while the drummers lashed the big 
drums with a morning vigour. Every banner was 
a shouting picture, supported on each side by a 
man holding a pole, and with many proud little 
boys keeping it steady with long orange ribbons. 
One banner would represent King William wav- 
ing a sword as he crossed the Boyne on a white 
horse; another would depict him as he received 
his wound on the same horse at the same battle ; 
another showed a youthful Queen Victoria pre- 
senting a Holy Bible to a monkey-brown heathen 
king, and bore the motto: **The Secret of Eng- 
land's Greatness"; another had a picture of the 
boy David getting his pebbles ready in the stream ; 
and there were plenty more of them, all with a 
coloured picture on each side. Each lod|ge had its 
special banner, before which two men usually 
walked holding the charter of the lodge, framed 
like a picture for the world's eyes. Behind the 
banner came the band, often two lordly drums and 
a little fife, the latter scarcely more audible amid 
the noise than the cheep of a newly hatched 


canary. Here, I confess with sadness, I noticed 
none of the backward-dancing flute-players who 
so often precede the big drums in the Belfast 
demonstrations, and who, I am sure, with their 
shapes and their tunes come down in direct line 
from an old procession to the temple of some 
rustic pagan god. In Kilkeel, however, there was 
a no less picturesque youth who went before some 
of the bands and swung a heavy pole, with a Bible 
and gold crown on the end of it, in time with the 
music, and who every now and then would twist 
round sharp as a drum-tap, and march backwards, 
with neat little steps, holding the pole horizontally 
across the front line of the band, as though to com- 
mand an ideal straight line in front. Then, hav- 
ing marshalled his whistling men into right lines, 
he would sweep round again, twirling his pole 
with the airs and graces, and would lead them 
pacing down the road, looking the picture of hap- 
piness in office under the scarlet plumes of his 
khaki-coloured hat. Other young men walked at 
the sides and ends of the lodges with gleaming 
pikes, called deacon-poles, and an occasional officer 
carried a polished wooden hammer in his hand. 
Four abreast or so, the rank and file of the proces- 
sion ambled along, with their coloured sashes over 
their shoulders — sashes of orange, blue, purple 
and black, with borders here and there of green, 
and many of them embroidered with ladders and 
crowing cocks and coffins and keys and death's- 


heads and lambs, and all the rest of it, in gold 
thread. They walked past slowly and self- 
oonsdonsly, with little attempt to keep step, some 
pnffing cheerfully at pipes, old men and yonng, 
dark and red, with bronzed skins, many of them 
with the shy, serious, Irish face, most of them 
with the talent of good will in their eyes. One 
could not have beheld anything less like the army 
of rage and roaring, of bloody words and pur- 
poses, which we are sometimes asked to regard as 
inhabiting the Orange counties of Ulster. Here 
was more friendship than frenzy. No sooner had 
the procession filed into the town than it broke off 
once more along a country road to meet a second 
large contingent coming from Annalong. Pouring 
down the hilly road and out among the fields, with 
the fifes lilting out The Orange Lily, and another 
band following at a few yards ' distance battering 
out that most Irish, if most Protestant, of songs. 
The Boyne Water, and an artillery of drums be- 
hind merging into that, the little army seemed to 
go forth on its mission with a mediaeval gaiety and 
gorgeousness. Crude the art of the painters no 
doubt was, but the imagination was carried away 
as the green and the blue and the orange silks of 
the banners disappeared to music over the edge of 
a hill. 

Probably it was about an hour before the pro- 
cession got back from its second march of hospi- 
tality. When it returned it was headed by a brake^ 


upon which sat the Worshipful Master of the 
Orangemen of the district, in a chimney-pot hat 
and a plush coat of many colours. Lean of face, 
lean and grizzled of beard, smiling, spectacled, he 
raised his hat on all sides like a monarch as he 
was borne through the town. The two grey horses 
which drew him had bunches of orange lilies at 
their ears, as had many of the horses in the cars 
which brought loads of country visitors in from 
every part. The procession was now twice as 
long as it had previously been, and the drums 
swept it down the street at a Uvelier pace as it 
made towards the field of meeting with a host of 
cars and girls in white dresses following it. On 
the way to the field, an old stooping farmer with 
a boy's face and eyes gleaming with sociability 
under his grey brows, came over and talked to me. 
When I spoke about the district, he said: **Ay, 
this is one of the civilized parts of the country. 
The country isn't all like this, you know.*' He 
talked about the prosperity of the farmers, and 
the excellence of seaweed as manure for the po- 
tatoes, and told me that you could grow twenty 
tons of potatoes on an acre of land and sell them 
at more than £3 a ton. When I asked him who 
were to be the speakers at the day's demonstra- 
tion, he said: **I don't know. Aw, I suppose it'll 
be some of the clergy. Some of the clergy's very 
good at the talking." It was an admirable ex- 
ample of the easy-going way in which the people 


of the country-side accepted the Twelfth and en- 
joyed it when it came. 

Even when the procession had arrived in the 
field, no one seemed to be in a hurry to begin the 
oratory. First of all, the lodges laid down their 
drums and folded up their banners, and sat down 
in various comers of the field, while carts followed 
them with crates of lemonade bottles and provi- 
sions. Each lodge provided its own lunch, and 
the wives and children of many of the Orangemen 
shared in the picnic, while a couple of ice-scream 
carts, fallen from heaven knows where; stood on 
the road and supplied the needs of the outside 
public. The fields around were empty of labour- 
ers ; the only sound of work to be heard was that 
of an unseen man clipping a hedge. There was a 
sort of Sunday look about it all — ^a Sunday school 
excursion look — as you gazed round the demon- 
strators sprawling in the grass in their Sunday 
clothes, eating sandwiches and smoking and talk- 
ing without excitement. As the elders ate and 
talked, small boys would steal up to the drums, 
fascinated, and beat a tattoo on them, taking turns 
at the work. A beggar-woman, with red-rimmed 
eyes, slipped among the people, gently begging for 
her baby, until a sturdy, bearded man told her to 
go away home. **Go home yourself to your 
drunken wife,*' she shouted, turning on him 
venomously; "bejasus, go home and pay your 
iiebts/' It was the only exciting incident of the 


day* Conspicuous among the moving crowd in the 
field was the figure of the Worshipful Master in 
his chimney-pot hat and his plush cloak, smoking 
a pipe, with no memory of his ceremonial garb^ 
Boys in twos and threes wandered about bandy- 
ing with girls in twos and threes. And so an hour, 
and an hour and a half, passed, and no orator had 
yet broken the peace of the shining cloudy day. 
At long last, there was a general movement 
towards the wagonette, where a purple-and- 
orange bannerette and a Union Jack were flying. 
Several clergymen clambered into it beside the 
Worshipful Master, and, as I got near one of them 
was reading a prayer. This was followed by a 
chapter from the Bible, after which the Worship- 
ful Master uprose in his red, gold and blue plush, 
and smilingly rejoiced in the fact that so many of 
us had gathered there to do honour to 

King William Three 
Of glorious memoree. 

He said that that great meeting, the greatest he 
had ever seen in Moume, showed that Orangeism 
was still strong in the ancient kingdom, ^^and per- 
haps some of you know,*' he added, with a beauti- 
ful irrelevance, **that the Moume Mountains were 
made before the Alps, and Kilkeel dates from the 
fifth century. It was called Kellkeel then, but the 
name has changed since. ' ' He then referred to 
various members who had died or emigrated dur* 


ing the year. '^And now/' was his comment on 
one of the former, as he pointed upwards, ''our 
friend has joined the Orand Lodge above — I mean 
heaven.'' He read a letter from a member who 
had gone to New Zealand, promising, when the 
Ulster rebellion arrived, to come back. "You 
hear that," said the Worshipful Master, with a 
happy smile — ^''he says he'll come back when he's 
wanted." And he said it with so comic a sim- 
plicity that some of the listeners could not help 
bursting into laughter. It was a good-humoured, 
free-and-easy speech, an odd mixture of country- 
side colloquiaUsm and astonishing plunges into 
poetry and eloquence. He would suddenly break 
aside from the main thread of his speech and, 
with outstretched arms, appeal to us : "Put upon 
my tombstone when you lay me in the green earth 
neither 'He did well' nor 'He did ill,' but only 
'He did his best.' " And with equal unexpected- 
ness he afterwards declaimed a parody on From 
Oreenland's Icy Mountains, which began some- 
thing like: 

From Ulster's glorious moimtains 
To Munster's golden sands. 
Where Connemara's fountains, 

etc., and ended by saying that all the parts of 
Ireland mentioned were united together in declar- 

We will not have Home Rule. 


The next speaker was a young Presbyterian 
minister, who contented himself with covering the 
local history of the Orange Order during the year. 
After him came yet another young minister, who 
traced the history of Orangeism back to the end of 
the seventeenth century, and who incidentally 
spoke the only speech of ill will that I heard dur- 
ing the day. He recalled the battle of the Dia- 
mond in Axmagh, where the Orangemen had de- 
feated a superior host of Catholics in 1795, "leav- 
ing forty-eight dead,*' he added, with apparent 
satisfaction, **And,*' he went on boastfully, 
**we're ready to meet our enemies again, three to 
one, when they like. Don't think we're afraid of 
their numbers," he declared. **I have seen them 
during the riots up there in Derry, and you would 
only have to shake an empty pair of breeches at 
them to see the whole lot of them taking to their 
heels. ' ' He declared that Sir Edward Carson was 
one of the brightest intellects in the House of 
Commons, and expressed the deepest resentment 
because some people sneered at him who weren't 
fit to black his shoes. "Bottle-washers," sug- 
gested one of the audience. "They sneet at our 
dummy rifles," cried the young clergyman; "we 
have the real rifles and can produce them when 
necessary." He kept repeating the word "loy- 
alty," and contemptuously proclaimed that "a 
loyal Hibernian was as rare as holy water in 
Aughanoory Orange Lodge." He called for "the 


long arm and the short sword'' to seek out and 
punish treason. He uttered no word of good will 
to the country in which he was bom. Perhaps 
that is why his speech sounded so oddly in 
the tolerant atmosphere of Moume — ^** kindly 
Moume/' as the old stooping farmer had assured 
me it is called. And I do not believe that the mind 
of the place was ^expressed in it. Beside it I could 
not help putting for contrast a sermon I heard in 
the Presbyterian Church the next morning, when 
a minister with white hairs preached a sermon 
that closed with another reference to Home Bule. 
He said that he, and many people with him, be- 
lieved that Some under Home Bule could re- 
establish her system as it was in the days of the 
StuartSy and he urged his hearers to pray to God 
to avert so great a calamity. **And if,'* he con- 
cluded — ^I quote the words freely from memory — 
**God sees good to answer our prayer, He will 
drive those clouds away, and if in His providence 
He should allow the changes we dread to come to 
pass, then we may be sure that it is His purpose 
to make them the means of some great blessing to 
His people of which we do not now know. ' ' That, 
I think, is the statement of a deeper Ulster mood 
than the clerical message that had been delivered 
on the field. 

I left the meeting after the young minister had 
spoken. But in the evening the bands came thun- 
dering into the village again, and, as I wfttqhed. 


them, I remembered how I, too, was once filled 
with the vision of the Pope as a dragon who might 
at any time come stealing over the hUls during the 
night to devour us in our beds. Well, perhaps I 
am something of an Orangeman in my view of the 
Pope still. But I sometimes wonder whether the 
Orangeman dreads Home Rule because of the 
power it will give the Pope half as much as many 

j a Pope has dreaded Irish freedom because of the 

I power it will give the Orangeman. 



If one wants to know the tmth about a country, is 
it better to turn to the poets or the police? One 
always accepts the witness of the poets about 
one's own country. In regard to foreign coun- 
tries (or, at least, foreign States) one wobbles, but 
with a distinct bias in favour of the police. In 
regard to subject countries one does not wobble 
at all: one takes the police view automatically. 
There have been individual EngUshmen, even in- 
dividual statesmen, who have seen Ireland more 
or less through the eyes of the poets. But they 
have never been able to establish the Ireland of 
•the poets on the map of the world. Ireland is still, 
for all practical purposes — ^at least, for all politi- 
cal purposes — ^a nation in the dock. Her history 
is the long history of a people who entered into a 
criminal conspiracy to set their country free. 
They have been guilty of patriotism, self-sacrifice, 
fidelity, idealism, hatrM of oppression, and all 
the other vices in the Newgate Calendar of the 
little nations. The poets, it may be, who are 
lenient to sinners, have praised Ireland for these 
things. The police, however, are not to be de- 



luded intc sentimentality. For them the supreme 
virtue of a subject people is obedience. The first 
and last commandment with them is : ^ ^ Thou shalt 
obey the will of the stronger '* as it is set forth in 
Act of Parliament on in the decree of Tzar, or 
Sultan, or dictator. 

Had the police view prevailed the people of 
England would never have been free, George 
Washington would have been hanged as a crimi- 
nal, and Italy would not now be a nation. That, 
whether we like it or not, is a fact that we must 
face. I am not among those who affect to despise 
law and order, and who believe that the world 
would get on very well without policemen stand- 
ing at the street comers. Law and order, how- 
ever, are admirable only as a means to liberty and 
justice. As substitutes for liberty and justice they 
are not tolerable to any conununity of self- 
respecting men. From the policeman's point of 
view — ^perhaps inevitably so— the teat of a na- 
tion's or a man's virtue is compliance with the 
existing law. The poets, on the other hand, who 
have as a rule been on the side of Christ against 
Caiaphas, are more exacting. They are the con- 
fessors of the soul. They ask about a man, not 
whether he broke a law, but whether he served 
God — about a nation, not whether it was orderly, 
but whether it kept the faith. And they not only 
ask but answer these questions. Theirs is the 
ultimate human verdict on men and on nations. 


It would be an excellent thing if Lord FrencU 
and the other soldiers and statesmen, in whose 
hands is to some extent the immediate destiny of 
Ireland, would stady the reports of the poets as 
well as the reports of the police concerning the 
Irish people. They wonld learn a number of 
things from the poets. They would learn, for one 
thing, that Ireland is a nation, with a tradition, 
genius and self-consciousness distinct from those 
of any other nation in Europe. They need not go 
to the rebel poets to discover this. They will find 
the same flaming news in the poems of Irishmen 
who died fighting in the uniform of the British 
army. If we want the poetry of modem Irish 
Nationalism we get it as indubitably in the work 
of Francis Ledwidge and Tom Kettle as in that 
of Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Plunkett. It 
may be questioned, indeed, if the former is not 
on the whole the more poetic and, therefore, the 
more persuasive of the two. The fact that Kettle 
and Ledwidge threw themselves into the fight for 
the world^s Uberty did not mean that they had^ 
grown indijBferent to Ireland's liberty. They gave^ 
their lives for Ireland none the less deliberately 
because they gave them for Europe. Living and 
dying in this great passion, they seem to have felt 
at times a curious kinship with those other Irish 
poets who perished as a result of the Easter week 
rising in 1916. They differed from them in regard 
to the war ; one of them even took arms against 


them ; but death is a great canonizer, and it was 
not long after the rebel poets were in their graves 
that Corporal Ledwidge was singing of them as 
companions in the great adventure for the libera- 
tion of Ireland. The death of the poets in the 
rebellion seems to have cast a tragic cloud over 
his imagination. In one of his poems in Last 
Songs he relates how : 

All the dead kings came to ma 

At Rosnaree, where I was dreaming, 

and told him the famous three sorrows of story- 
telling. He in his turn had a story to tell : 

And I, too, told the kings a story 
Of later glory, her fourth sorrow. 

This was the sorrow of the martyrdoms of Easter 
Week. The end of the poem, **The Dead Kings,'' 
coming as it does from the pen of a soldier, since 
dead, is testimony that must be honoured as to 
the intensity of the passion that is stirring in 
Ireland to-day : 

And one said: ''Since the poets perished. 

And all they cherished in the way. 
Their thoughts unsung, like petal showers. 

Inflame the hours of blue and grey." 

And one said: "A loud tramp of men 

We'll hear again at Rosnaree/' 
A bomb burst near me where I lay, 

I. woke, 'twas day in Picardy. 

I do not quote this as an example of Ledwidge 's 
poetry at its finest. I quote it simply as evidence 


of the nature of the thoughts of a pro-English (as 
distinguished from what is called a pro-German)- 
Irishman regarding his country and his country- 

Many influences have been at work in recent 
years to impress upon the world at large the false 
opinion that the love of Ireland is a pro-German 
thing — ^that Irishmen desire freedom merely out 
of hatred of England. The truth is, the Irish are 
very like any other nation. They idealize their 
own country and are enraged with those who 
trample on them and play Pharaoh over their 
miseries. Francis Ledwidge seems to have been 
so happily constituted as to be spared the rage of 
patriotism, but he had his full share of its ardour. 
One of his poems, **At Currabwee,*' is a charm- 
ing, fanciful and passionate expiression of his love 
both for Ireland and for the lovers of Ireland, 
even when the latter died fighting in the opposite 
ranks to those in which he himself fought. He 
begins by recalling the stories that he used to hear 
of the leprechauns, the ^^ little men with leather 
hats,'' who — 

Mend the boota of Faery 

From the tough wings of the bats 

— stories that he had heard from his mother as a 
child. As he lets his memory wander, the old 
country tale is linked up with thoughts not only of 
his mother but pf the dead poets of Easter Week : 


Louder than a cricket's wing; 

All night long their hanuner's glee 
Times the merry songs they sing 

Of Ireland glorious and free. 
So I heard Joseph Plunkett say — 
Tou know he heard them but last May. 

And when the night is very cold 
They warm their hands against the light 

Of stars that make the waters gold 
Where they are labouring all the night. 

So Pearse said, and he knew the truth — 

Among the stars he spent his youth. 

Ledwidge, however, does not idealize the poets of 
l^e insurrection at the expense of those other gal- 
lant Irishmen like himself, who, patting their trust 
in the honour of England and their lives into the 
struggle for the liberty of mankind, fought for 
Ireland on the battle-fields of Europe. The last 
verse of the poem is full of the proud conscious- 
ness that he, too, was giving his days to his 

And I, myself y have often heard 
Their singing as the stars went by» 

For am I not of those who reared 
The banner of old Ireland high. 

From Dublin town to Turkey's shores, 

And where the Vardar loudly roars! 

Mr. James Stephens is a writer of greater 
originality than Ledwidge. I do not propose to 
discuss the original side of his genius in this place. 
I turn to him here only as one of the many poet 
witnesses on behalf of Irish Nationalism. Rem- 


carnations, his book of adaptations from the 
older GaeUo poets, is of especial interest in this 
connection. As evidence of the centnries-old pas- 
sion with which the Irish have regarded their 
country as a nation, oppressed and denationalized 
by a foreign people, it contains mnch that is 
deeply impressive. The version of O'Bahilly's 
poem, '^Inis Fal," for instance, expresses what 
every Irish Nationalist still believes — ^that the 
Irish arts and the Irish social life, as well as Irish 
wealth and Irish lands, were stolen away or de- 
stroyed by the invaders : 

Now may we turn aside and dry our tears. 
And comfort ub, and lay aeide our f ears. 
For all is gone — all comely quality. 
All gentleness and hospitality, 
All courtesy and merriment is gone; 
Our virtues all are withered every one. 
Our music vanished and our skill to sing: 
Now may we quiet us and quit our moan. 
Nothing is whole that could be broke, no thing 
Remains to us of all that was our own. 

No one who does not understand the feeling ex- 
pressed in these lines, that Ireland is a foreign 
country as regards England, and a country that 
has suffered loss as bitter and complete as Poland, 
is in a position to spell even the first simple words 
of the Irish question. The anti-Irish will, I do 
not doubt, continue to regard Irish national senti- 
ment as an unpleasant mixture of whining and 
race hatred* It is always an easy thing to belittle 


the agony and tears of a subject people. But 
every honest Englishman of imagination knows 
that had the parts of England and Ireland been 
reversed, England's attitude to a dominant Ire- 
land would have been the same that Ireland's at- 
titude to a dominant England has always been. 
I do not share the mood of Pearse when he 
I writes that Irish hatlB of the English is ' ^ a scarcely 

I less holy passion" than ** Irish love of Nature and 

\ of Nature's God." Hatred is one of the ancient 

passions of human nature, but it is a deforming 
passion and outside the circle of holy things. At 
the same time, it is an inevitable passion in certain 
circumstances for all but the saints, and the Irish 
would have been less than human if the attempts 
of Queen Elizabeth to exterminate them or of 
Cromwell to destroy them had not filled them with 
wild and ruinous thoughts. It was an anonymous 
Irishman of those old days who comforted him- 
self with the thought : 

(Tbe world hath oonqaered^ the wind hath scattered like dust 
Alexander, CsMar, and all that shared their sway, 
Tara is grass, and behold how Troy lieth low, 
And even the English, perchance their hour wiU come! 

That quatrain, translated by Pearse, is but a mild 
example of some of the rebel poetry which he him- 
self gathered and put into English in Songs of the 
Irish Rebels. A still fiercer passion breaks 
through in his translation of Ferriter's poem on 


the Cromwellian clearances, which contains the 
verses : 

Pirates rule in the place of princes. 

In comfort, in ease, in luxury, in qiacious palaces. 

Full of strength, full of goods, full of words, well-feasting. 

Uncouth, gabbling, greedy, cynical. 

The aim and desire of the crew is, 
However they may make peace with our people. 
To play with those that accept terms from them. 
The tricks of the redoubtable cat with the mouse! 

On the whole, the words seem gentle and inno- 
cent compared with a speech of Sir Edward Car- 
son or a leading article in The Spectator against 
the Irish Nationalists. The Spectator's attitude 
to Ireland, however, is as irrefragable a proof 
that Ireland is a separate nation as is Ireland's 
attitude to The Spectator and all for which it 

Sir Samuel Ferguson, a selection of whose 
poems can be got in ** Every Irishman's Library,*' 
was a Belfast man belonging to the Protestant 
and Unionist class. But in his works, as surely 
as in the work of the Southern Catholic, Pearse, 
we find unanswerable evidence that Ireland is a 
distinct and foreign nation. Mr. Yeats in his 
youth declared that Ferguson was **the greatest 
poet Ireland produced, because the most central 
and the most Celtic." Most of us read him, how- 
ever, less for his original work than for his trans- 
lations from the Irish. Among the latter is '^The 


Downfall of Gael," the original of which was writ- 
ten about 1580 by O'Gnive, Bard of the O'Neill. 
It is a fine example of national poetry both in its 
lamentation and its summons to action. It is too 
long to quote in full, but the last verses will give 
an idea of its anger, sorrow and power : 

We starye by the board. 

And we thirst amid wassail — 
For the guest is the lord. 

And the host is the vassal! 

Through the woods let us roam. 
Through the wastes wild and barroi; 

We are strangers at home! 
We are exiles in Erin! 

And Erin's a bark 

Cer the wild waters driven! 
And the tempest howls dark 

And her side planks are riven! 

And in billows of might 

Swell the Saxon before her — 
Unite, oh, unite! 

Or the billows burst o'er her! 

Had Serbian poets written verse like this, how the 
Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Lon- 
don and Mr. Lloyd George and The Times would 
have united to do honour to so noble a national 
bequest of passion and patriotism! A long na- 
tional memory seems in an ally the ultimate grace, 
but in a subject and suspect country the ultimate 
disgrace. That is why Ireland is misunderstood. 
She will be understood easily enough on the day 


on which statesmen make an honest effort to un- 
derstand her. They can do this by studying Irish 
literature and Iridi history, wherein the whole 
truth about Ireland is as dear as day. Lord 
French will learn far more about the essentials 
of what is called the Irish question from the verse 
of Ledwidge, Pearse, and Lieutenant Kettle and 
from Mrs. Oreen's little book on Irish Nationality 
than from Major Price, the Dublin Metro- 
politan Police and the Boyal Irish Constabulary 



Thb wealth of literature which Ireland has pro- 
dnoed in Gaelic is as amazing almost as the pov- 
erty of the literature she had produced in English 
until last century. Her old books are, as scholars 
know, chiefly in prose. She possesses an Iliad 
of stories — ^the stories of CuchuUain, of Finn, of 
the children of lir, of Diarmaid and Grainne, of 
Deirdre and the sons of Uisneach — ^which have 
known no diminution of beauty in a thousand 
years. Even in Irish prose, however, we are usu- 
ally aware of an xmderflow of lyricism. If every 
now and then the prose breaks into poetry like a 
mediaeval cantef able, it is not an abrupt change 
from pedestrian to winged literature. Irish prose 
flashes into poetry hardly less naturally than the 
lark springs from the ground. A passionate de- 
light in beauty, youth, nature, love and battie runs 
through Irish imaginative literature like a song; 
and though this delight is, in a sense, the stuff of 
which all literature is made, I believe that the in- 
tensity of the worship of nature, at least, which is 
shown in some of the medieval Irish poems is 



without a parallel in the literature of the Middle 
Ages, or, indeed, of any age between the writing 
of The Song of Solomon and the coming of Bums 
and Wordsworth. 

Perhaps we are inclined to exaggerate the de- 
gree to whidi Wordsworth and the nineteenth 
century discovered nature. Obviously, man's 
emotional concern with nature is as old as hunger 
or love or any other primary instinct. At the 
same time, it is only among some peoples and at 
some periods that the long procession of nature 
with its flying banners becomes the subject of 
enthusiasm without ulterior motive, of childlike 
rapture for rapture's sake. The nineteenth cen- 
tury was sueh a period. The Irish have for hun- 
dreds of years been such a people. The centuries- 
old joyousness of the Irish imagination in its atti- 
tude to mature appears in such a poem as In 
Praise of May, which Mr. T. W. Eolleston has 
translated into English rhyme. The poem is too 
long to quote in full ; but, at the risk of spoiling it, 
I give some scattered verses : 

May-day! delightful day! 
Bright colours play the Tale along. • 
Now wakes at morning's slender ray 
Wild and gay the blackbird's song. 

Now comes the bird of dusty hue, 
The loud cuckoo, the summer-lover. 
Branchy trees are thick with leaves. 
The bitter evil time is over. 


Loaded bees with puny power 
(Goodly flower-harvest win; . 
Cattle roam with muddy flanks. 
Busy ants go out and in. 

• • • • • 

A bright shaft has smit the streams. 
With gold gleams the water-flag^ 
Leaps the flsh, and on the hills 
Ardour thrills the leaping stag. 

Loudly carols the lark on high. 
Small and shy, his tireless lay. 

Singing in wildest, merriest mood, 
Delicate-huedy delightful May. 

Those who think that Mr. BoUeston has nnduly 
amplified and modernized the original would do 
well to tnm for purposes of comparison to the 
prose translation of the last verse of the poem 
from Dr. Kuno Meyer's Ancient Irish Poetry: 

A timorous, tiny, persistent fellow 
Sings at the top of his voice. 
The lark sings clear tidings; 
Surpassing summer-time of delicate hues! 

It is dear that the enthusiasm for this Noah's 
Ark which is the world is not the importation of 
a modem rhyming translator but is the very soul 
of the ninth-century Irish original. 

This we may regard as an example of Irish 
secular, and even of pagan, poetry: it is tradi- 
tionally ascribed to Finn MacCool. One of the 
remarkable facts in Irish literature is, however, 
as Miss Hull points out in her anthology. The 
Poem Book of the Gael, that there is no real break 


between the pagan and Christian poets of nature. 
Saint and hermit observed the phantasmagoria of 
bird and fish and flower with the same blitheness 
as the most godless bard. Irish mediaeval Chris- 
tianity seems, indeed, for the most part to have 
^ Inissed that bleak hatired of the world which hung 
so long like a pestilence over the greater part of 
Christian Europe. St. Columba, in the poem, 
does not praise God by ignoring the sensible 
world around him: his thoughts turn easUy from^ 
heaven to the delights of sitting on a rock by the 

That I might hear the thunder of the clamorous waves 

Upon the rocks; 

That I might hear the roar by the side of the church 

Of the surrounding sea; 

That I might watch its noble bird-flocks 

Flying over the watery surf; 

That I might see the ocean-monsters, 

Greatest of all wonders. 

Manchan, the hermit, describing that ^'hidden 
hut in the wilderness/' which he desires, finds 
time to pray for 

A southern aspect to catch the sun, a brook across the floor, 
A choice land, rich with gracious gifts, down-stretching from my 

Prince Marvan, who has retired from a palace 
to a hermitage in the woods, in praising his new 
life to his brother, King Guaire, speaks not as a 
mystic, but of the love of the beautiful and simple 


things which the eye can see. He has lover's 
eyes for the movements of the animals, the falling 
of the fruits, the colour and song of the birds 
about his dwelling. 

Like a great hortel, weloomiiig to all. 

My laden apple-tree; 
Low in the hedge, the modest hazel-bush 

Drops ripest nuts for me. 

• • • • • 

The host of forest-dwellers of the soil 

Trysting at night; 
To meet them foxes come, a peaceful troop. 

For my delight. 

Like ezOed princes, flocking to their home. 

They gather round; 
Beneath the riyer-bank great salmon leap. 

And trout abound. 

. • . • • 

The little music-makers of the world, 

Chafers and bees. 
Drone answer to the tumbling torrent's roar. 

Beneath the trees. 

It iSy perhaps, less of a paradox than it at iSrst 
sight appears that a people which has praised life 
with such sanity and such acceptance as in poems 
like these should have devoted so much of its 
imaginative energy to the quest and scripture of 
fairyland. The Irish have long since come to be 
popularly regarded, not as lovers of the day's life 
but as the idealists of Tir-na-nOg, the country of 
the young. The two things are not really contra- 
dictory. It is the very love of the day's life which 


has fired the poets with the longing to immortalize 
life at its most exultant — ^the life of golden lads 
and girls. Even to-day an almost pagan idolatry 
of youth peeps oat now and then in the Irish tem- 
perament. Lovers of every feature and shadow 
of loveliness, the Irish have, more keenly than; 
most peoples, resented the harsh prose of a world 1 
in which the brave and the beautiful are herded! 
down to one dusty end with chimney-sweepers./ 
The mockery of age and its ugliness is one of th^ 
persistent notes in Irish literature. Synge did> 
not invent the hag as the cockshy of invective. 
The Old Woman of Beare in the eleventh-century 
poem, who has become a nun in her old age, is a 
more horrid and disastrous figure than any of 
Synge 's, as she bitterly contrasts her present holy 
estate with the pagan joys of her youth : 

Ament and woe U me! 

I lie here rotting like a broken tree; 

Each aoom has its day, and needs must fall: 

Time makes an end of all! 

I had my day with kings! 
We drank the brimming mead, the ruddy wine, 
Where now I drink whey-water; for company more fine 
Than shrivelled hags, hag though I am, I pine. 

The bitter rebelliousness of the poem — ^a dra- 
matic masterpiece the genius of which can be only 
faintly suggested in a quotation — ^is still more 
effectively concentrated in Dr. Meyer's prose 
translation of the first of these verses : 


Amen! woe is me! 

Every acorn has to drop. 

After feasting by sliining candles 

To be in the gloom of a prayer-bouse. 

But Miss HnlPs versions, skilful and melodions 
and interpretative, will usually be found happy 
supplements to Dr. Meyer's in cases where both 
have translated the same poem. In reading trans- 
lations of poetry, at the best, we are imprisoned 
in a kind of Plato 's cave, seeing only the shadows 
thrown on the wall by the passing world behind 
our backs. Prose translations, perhaps, cast the 
clearer silhouettes. But the translator into verse 
occasionally enables us to catch the tone of a voice, 
the light on a face, which we might otherwise have 

At the same time, more than once one finds one- 
self wishing that Miss Hull had been content with 
giving the exact prose of some of the modem — or, 
at least, comparatively modem — lyrics. One feels 
this especially in regard to Donall Oge, where, 
indeed, she has compromised by leaving two of the 
most significant lines without rhyme or metre. Do 
not the rhymes trammel the imaginative march 
of this exquisite lament of a country girl tragic- 
ally deserted? 

You have taken ibe East from me and you bave taken tbe West, 
Tou bave taken tbe patb tbat is before me and tbe patb tbat is 

Tbe moon is gone from me by nigbt, and tbe sun is gone by day, 
Alas I 1 greatly dread you bare stolen my Qod away! 


I heard the dog speak of you and the ran gone down^ 
I heard the anipe calling aloud from the marahlands brown; 
It ia you are the lonely bird flitting from tree to tree — 
May you never find your mate if you find not me I 

On the other hand, nothing conld be happier 
than Miss Hall's verse-translation of that other 
love-song, which begins : 

The Btara stand up in the air. 
The ran and the moon are 8et» 
The flea that ebbed dry of its tide 
Leayea no eingle pebble wet; 
The cuckoo keepa eaying each hour 
That flhe, my Storeen, is fled — 
O Girl of the brave, free tresses, 
Far better had you struck me dead I 

One could go on quoting extract after extract 
from Miss HnU and Dr. Sigerson and the other 
translators and anthologists of Irish poetry, not 
merely as examples of beantiful literature, but as 
expressions of this or that phase of the Irish 
genius and temper. No study of the psychology 
of race could enlighten the careful reader in re- 
gard to Ireland half so well as the songs of love, 
of war, of religion, of death, of revenge. Irish 
history survives alike in the fias^iing war-songs, 
and in triumphant pieces of melancholy, such as 
Mangan's Woman of the Piercmg Wail. Not 
less important as a key to the secrets of the old 
Irish civilization are the religious poems, like that 
noble prayer of St. Patrick's which contains the 
lines : 


Christ on my right, Christ on my left, 

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I 

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, 
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, 
Christ in every eye that sees me, 
Christ in every ear that hears me. 

Those who care indeed may discover in tiie 
translated literature the abundant soul of Ireland, 
and they will discover in it, I believe, a revelation, 
not merely of a national genius, but of the beauty 
of old, heroic and simple things, which may be 
related to nationality but which transcends it 


It was the contention of the late Thomas 
MacDonagh, in his book. Literature in Ireland, 
that a distinctive Irish literature has recently 
grown up in the English language, and that this 
is due to the fact that English has at long last 
become the daily language of the great majority 
of the Irish people. The Irish mind, according to 
this argument, had hitherto either expressed itself 
in the Irish language or had been too exhausted 
and broken to express itself at all. English- 
speaking Irishmen had written poetry and prose 
of genius, but they wrote for an English au- 
dience: their imaginations and sympathies were 
English, not Irish. Goldsmith, Burke and Sheri- 
dan are but three names in a long line of Irish 


genius (including, in our own time, the names of 
Oscar Wilde and Mr. Bernard Shaw) which has 
emigrated to England in search of an audience. 
The truth is that until recently there was very 
little hope of an Irish audience for Irish authors 
unless they talked the language of politics. Even 
to-day it may be doubted whether Ireland sup- 
ports a single native author. The Abbey Theatre 
company goes wandering to London and New 
York in search of funds. A. E. is a painter and 
journalist as well as a poet. I doubt whether Mr. 
Yeats 's Irish sales alone would justify the pub- 
lication of a single one of his books from a com- 
mercial point of view. Even in England the public 
for literature, though not the public for books, is 
astonishingly small. In Ireland, until the other 
day, it might almost have been packed into a rea- 
sonably sized excursion train. The world-success 
of Synge, the reputation of Mr. Yeats, the Maun- 
sel publishing house, the growing prosperity of 
the country, and the spread of secondary and uni- 
versity education have, however, done much to 
give the Irish author some hope of being able to 
live by literature if only he could be sure of sur- 
viving another century or so. Assuredly, the 
Irish audience, if it has not supported many au- 
thors, has inspired many. The fact that Irish 
writers have turned their faces to it has given 
their work, as might have been expected, a new 
light and originality of intimacy. Irish literature 


has ceased to be an echo, and has become a beau- 
tiful voice. This is one of the most important 
literary facts of our time. 

MacDonagh himself^ who was one of the fifteen 
Irishmen executed for proclaiming an Irish Re- 
public on Easter Monday, 1916, liked to think of 
the Irish literary movement as a sort of rebellion. 
He contends in his book that the **note'* of the 
new literature in Ireland — at least of the new lit- 
erature in Irish — is **a note of pride, of self- 
reliance, almost of arrogance.'* **The Gaelic re- 
vival,*' he goes on, "has given to some of us a 
new arrogance. I am a Gael and I know no cause 
but of pride in it. . . . My race has survived the 
wiles of the foreigner here. It has refused to 
yield even to defeat, and emerges strong to-day, 
full of hope and of love, with new strength in its 
arms to work its new destiny, with a new song on 
its Ups and the words of a new language ; which is 
the ancient language, still calling from age to age. 
. . . This arrogance is a sign of energy, of 
vitality, and so here is good." 

In its most important aspect, however, his book 
is not a chant of defiance but an attempt to dis- 
cover and explain the nature of that curiously in- 
teresting literature which has grown up in Ireland 
— chiefly in the English language — during the past 
century. MacDonagh leaves out of account Irish 
writers such as Swift and Goldsmith. Those were 
contributors to English, not to Anglo-Irish, litera- 


tore. By Anglo-Irish literature MaoDonagh 
means literature which, though written in the 
English language, is influenced by Irish modes of 
thought and addressed principally to an Irish au- 
dience. Thus he includes among Anglo-Irish 
writers Lionel Johnson, who, though an English- 
man in upbringing, was adopted into the Irish 
tradition* He wishes to substitute for the '^Celtic 
note^' emphasized by Matthew Arnold something 
which he calls the '^ Irish mode.'* This Irish 
mode he does not exactly define; but by a poem 
written in the Irish mode he means a poem which 
shows ^^the influence of Irish versification, the 
influence of the Irish way of speech, the influence 
of Irish music." It is not that he excludes from 
Anglo-Irish literature all poetry not written in 
this mode. He does not find the marks of the Irish 
mode in the verse of Mr. James Stephens, Miss 
Susan Mitchell or Miss Alice MilUgan, but he 
would scarcely on this account shut out their work 
from an anthology of Anglo-Irish poetry. By 
making this concession, he may seem ratiier to 
weaken his argument for the existence of a sepa- 
rate Anglo-Irish literature — ^a literature which is 
not merely a branch from the stem of English 
literature. At the same time, he does make out 
a most interesting case for his contention that 
Anglo-Irish literature has its roots, not in English 
literature, but in the traditional music and poetry 
of Ireland and in the almost separate language of 


the English-speaking peasantry in Ireland to-day. 
English as it is spoken in Ireland is English that 
has been turned and twisted to suit the old Gaelic 
order of speech. Perhaps, however, MacDonagh 
exaggerates the differences between the Irish and 
the English or French use of words. Thus he 
takes a passage from De Quincey on the swarming 
life of Southern Asia, ending with the sentence : 
**Man is a weed in those regions." He then gives 
us a French version by Baudelaire, who translated 
this sentence as: '^L'homme, dans ces contrees, 
pousse comme Pherbe.*' This is followed by a 
terse Latin translation, and then by a translation 
into classic Irish prose, which is literally turned 
into English in this shape: ** "Where are we then, 
but than not more grows the growth of wild plants 
in a soft, sodded grassy place than the fresh 
growth of the Adam-clan on the arable soil of 

One cannot help feeMng that the Irish mind 
must have simpler methods of expressing a simple 
image than this. These grace notes of speech 
seem to me to be a vice of style of which every 
language is capable if perverted from its right 
use. Mr. Padraic O'Conaire, I imagine, could 
translate the sentence into Irish as pithy as the 
English of De Quincey or the French of Baude- 
laire ; and his version would be as well suited to 
the Irish mode of thinking as the Keatingese ver- 
sion quoted by Mr. MacDonagh. It is its imagina- 


tive fulness, not its adjectival emptiness, which is 
the distinction of good Irish writing. 

MacDonagh is mnch nearer one of the secrets 
of Irish literature when he notes the difference 
between English and Irish rhythm. '^English 
rhythm,** he writes, "is governed by stress. In 
England the tendency is to hammer the stressed 
syllables and to slur the unstressed syllables. In 
Ireland we keep by comparison a uniform stress. 
A child in Cork, reading the word uninteUigihUitj/, 
pronounces all the eight syllables distinctly, with- 
out special stress on any, though his voice rises 
and falls in a kind of tune or croon, going high 
upon the final syllable." It is because they look 
for the stresses of Pope and Keats in the verse 
of Mr. Yeats that many readers are at first at a 
loss before its music. But, none the less, it has a 
most exquisite music — a music in many ways akin 
to that of Irish speech. And so with a great deal 
of modem Irish verse. "I should say," writes 
MacDonagh, "that the effects of our more deliber- 
ate Irish speech on our verse are these two : first, 
a prose intonation, not monotonous, being saved 
by the natural rise and fall of the voice, a rem- 
nant of the ancient pitch — ^a quality, as it were, of 
chanted speech ; and, secondly, a tendency to give, 
in certain poems, generally of short, rhyming 
lines, almost equal stress value to all the syllables, 
a tendency to make the line the metrical unit." 
There are many other points in regard to which 


MacDonagh's studies throw light on the differ- 
entia of verse written in the Irish mode. At the 
same time, with some of his points it is impossible 
to agree. Thus, he confuses two kinds of ob- 
scurity in his defence of Irish poets against the 
charge of being obscure. He regards obscurity as 
a word applied to what is unknown or strange — 
Irish tradition, for example, or a personal vision 
incomprehensible to an English reader — and he 
quotes, as an example of Irish obscurity, a verse 
from Mr. Colum's Drover: 

Then the wet, winding roads, 
Brown bogs and black water, 
And my thoughts on white ships 
And the King of Spain's daughter. 

^*To US,'* he comments on this, "there is a world 
of memory in these lines. • . • Others might well 
ask, Which King of Spain? Why white ships! 
and find nothing but suggestions of unpleasant- 
ness in the thought of wet roads, brown bogs, and 
black water. I suppose one has to be baptized 
Irish to feel the right thing.*' As a matter of 
fact, no one would ask these questions who was 
capable of appreciating poetry above the level of 
The Boy Stood on the Burnmg Deck. It is the 
vague vision in the work of some of the lesser 
Irish poets, not the novelty of their imagination, 
of which many critics reasonably complain. Mac- 
Donagh contends that, while the Irish use worda 


which are coins the English merely use words 
which are counters. The trath is, in both coun- 
tries the great mass of writers make use of the 
counters of convention. Only the most honest and 
determined imagination can escape from this 

Similarly, it is not always easy to agree with 
what MacDonagh has to say on the subject of Irish 
, literature — of literature, that is, which is written 
in the Irish language. When he says, for instance : 
^' Irish prose I believe to be a finer vehicle than 
English prose. The poise and the concision of 
the idiomatic Irish sentence make our long series 
of words in English seem weak by comparison," 
one feels that it would be much better to say that 
each language has its special genius, and to leave 
it at that. Certainly, to quote Keatingese Irish on 
one page and to speak of the conciseness of Irish 
on another will only serve to bewilder most 

At its present stage, however, the Irish literary 
movement that is of most interest to the world at 
large is the movement that expresses itself, not in 
the Irish, but in the English language. No move- 
ment has ever been more industriously ** written 
up.'' There is a whole library of books about it 
at the disposal of the historian— good books, bad 
books, and indifferent books. Mr. George Moore 
has written the comic history of it in Hail and 
FareweUl Mr. Yeats has published his remi- 


iliscences. Mrs. Hinkson's now run to three vol- 
umes. And the result is that pne knows the names 
of the Irish minor poets by this time as well as 
those of the Elizabethan dramatists. No book 
covers the field so well as Mr. Ernest Boyd's 
Irelcmd's Literary Renaissance. It is a book 
which is at once useful in its information and dig- 
nified in its criticism. As a survey of the Irish 
literary movement it is the best thing that has so 
far been written. Not that one invariably agrees 
with Mr. Boyd in his ideas as to which Irish au- 
thors are really Irish and which are really Eng- 
lish. It seems to me wrong to omit all reference 
to the poems of Mr. James Joyce or the essays of 
T. M. Kettle, and it is equally wrong to leave the 
work of the authors of Some Experiences of an 
Irish R.M. out of account. The Irish R.M. is no 
doubt merely the last and best of the books in the 
Lover-Lever tradition, but it is also a masterpiece 
which has caught the Irish accent with a genius as 
sure as Synge's or Lady Gregory's. The truth is, 
it is only possible to write a satisfactory history 
of modem Irish literature in one way, and that is 
to include the work of every Irish author of note, 
whether he derives from Mangan and Ferguson 
or not. 

Mr. Boyd wisely begins his history with the 
appearance of those two poets, whose finest work 
was their translations from the Irish. At the same 
time I wish he had tried to do a little justice to 


Thomas Moore. Moore's work had many ad- 
mirable Irish qualities, and it did much to popu- 
larize Irish melody and Irish themes in Ireland 
as well as in England. And Mr. Boyd is unjust 
to The Nation group as well as to Moore. ^^Pa- 
triotic as was The Nation group," he writes, "it 
cannot in the proper sense of the word be de- 
scribed as national.'! It would be far nearer the* 
truth to say that, though it was national, it failed 
in not being sufiKdently literary. It was for the 
most part a national journalistic movement, not 
a national literary movement. But good journal- 
ism is as necessary to a nation as good literature. 
As for the men of letters in it, Mangan was the 
one writer of soaring genius among them. He 
brought, as it were, a new spirit into Ireland out 
of the clouds and out of the dead centuries. He 
was the most Gaelic of all poets who have written 
in English. 

Mr. Standish 'Grady is regarded by many 
critics as the immediate inspirer of the Irish lit- 
erary revival. As Mr. Boyd points out, however. 
Dr. Douglas Hyde's translations from the Irish, 
have also immense importance in a history of the 
development of an Anglo-Irish literature. It is im 
the prose translation of The Love-Songs of Con- 
nacht that the student "will find the source of 
what has come to be regarded as the chief discov- 
ery, and most notable characteristic, of the dran:iai 
of the Irish literary revival, the effective em* 


ployment of the Anglo-Irish idiom." For myself 
I think still earlier anticipations of this may be 
found in Patrick Kennedy's versions of Irish 
legends and fairy-tales. But it was certainly Dr. 
Hyde who taught Synge how to write his gorgeous 
sentences. '^The Love-Songs of Cownacht/^ 
writes Mr. Boyd, **were the constant study of the 
author of The Playboy, whose plays testify, more 
than those of any other writer, to the influence 
of Hyde 's prose. ' ' Had it not been for Dr. Hyde, 
he adds, Synge 's ''most striking achievement 
might never have been known. ' ' And he' quotes an 
example of Dn Hyde's Anglo-Irish, which is 
clearly a foreshadowing of the Synge word- 
decorations that all the world knows : 

If you were to see the sky-woman, and she prepared and dresaedy 

Of a fine sunny day in the street, and she walking, 

And a light kindled out of her shining bosom. 

That would give sight to the man without an eye: 

There is the love of hundreds in the forehead of her face,' 

Her appearance is, as it were, the Star of Monday, 

And if she had been in being in the time of the gods. 

It is not to Venus the apple would have been delivered iq». 

The Irish literary movement may be said to 
have given to the world a new style. It did this 
largely, it has been shown, as a result of literary 
nationalism. Irish literature had to become na- 
tional in order to become international. 



No aspect of the Irish revival has made a deeper 
ilkipression on the world at large than the dra- 
matic. Lady Gregory traces back the origin of 
the Irish theatre to a conversatibn between Mr. 
Yeats and herself at Coole in 1898. The first per- 
formance was given on 8th May^ 1899, when 
an absurd attempt was made to obtain a hostile 
reception for Mr. Yeats 's Countess Cathleen, on 
the ground that it was contrary to Catholic ortho- 
doxy that a lady who sold her soul, even to help 
the poor, shoiQd ultimately be admitted into 
heaven. Luckily, the average Catholip theatre- 
goer in Dublin refused to take the charge seriously 
and so eminent a Catholic as Dr. William Barry 
wrote to Mr. Yeats to assure him that the moral 
of his story was on all fours with St. Paul's '^I 
wish to be anathema for my brethren.*' 

The hero of the dramatic movement, as he is 
the greatest literary figure in modern Ireland, is 
Mr. W. B. Yeats. Even if we recognize that 
Synge had the genius of drama in a higher de- 
gree than Mr. Yeats, and that Mr. Moore has the 
genius of fiction beyond almost anyone now writ- 
ing in English, as he shows especially in his remi- 
niscences, it is time that the intellectual world 
realized that Mr. Yeats 's poetic genius is one of 
the most splendid of recent times. That he put 
this genius into harness for the sake of the Irish 


dramatic movement may not have been fortunate 
for himself, but what a send-off it gave to the 
movement! His Kathleen Ni Houlihcm brought 
the youth of Nationalist Ireland behind the new 
theatre; and his Kmg^s Threshold, in which Mr. 
Frank Fay spoke verse as one has seldom heard 
it spoken since on th^ stage, gave the theatre dig- 
nity outside Ireland as a centre of new artistic 
excitements. Nor should we forget the part that 
the Fays have played in the building up of an 
Irish theatre. The Irish Literary Theatre was at 
first merely a society for importing English actors 
into Dublin to produce plays by Irish writers, and 
might have continued to be so for a considerable 
time, if Mr. Frank Fay had not happened, in 
August, 1900, to read an article in The Mornmg 
Leader in which **Mr. William Archer, reviewing 
a volume of Norwegian dramatic criticism, ex- 
plained how Ole Bull, the great Norwegian 
violinist, had formed the Norwegian National 
Theatre for seven or eight amateurs who had 
answered his advertisement for people wishing to 
make a profession of singing, dancing, and act- 
ing. ' ^ This last was the theatre that had * * hatched 
Ibsen.'' By April, 1902, the efforts of the Fay 
brothers were so successful that they had founded 
the Irish National Dramatic Company, and were 
producing **A. E.'s*' Deirdre and Mr. Yeats 's 

Kathleen Ni Houiihan. The Irish National 


Theatre Society soon followed, and in 1904 Miss 


Homiman stepped forward and built— or rebuilt 
— ^the Abbey Theatre as we know it to-day. To 
the outsider, the history of the Abbey Theatre 
may seem a continuous advance from one height 
of prosperity to another. That is because the 
movement always succeeded in getting talked 
about. As a matter of fact, however, it did not 
always succeed in getting audiences; and Lady 
Gregory gives us a pathetic reminiscence of those 
empty and discouraging days: ''Often I have gone 
out by the stage door when the curtain was up, 
and come round into the auditorium by the front 
hall, hoping that in the dinoness I might pass for 
a new arrival, and so encourage the few scattered 
people in the stalls." 

It was The Playboy, of course, that made the 
theatre world-famous. Before The Playboy it 
was regarded, more or less, as a charming trifle. 
After The Playboy it was seen to be an institu- 
tion serious enough to set men fighting about it. 
To me The Playboy has always seemed one of the 
least of Synge's plays, and not an inhabitant of 
the same artistic world as Riders to the Sea and 
The WeU of the Saints. At the same time, what- 
ever may be one 's critical opinion of it, it is his- 
torically the most exciting play the Abbey The- 
atre has produced. People have often expressed 
their amazement that so exuberant an extrava- 
ganza should ever have been objected to by people 
with a sense of humour. But much as one detests 


the rowdyism that tried to drive it from the 
theatre, the provocativeness of the play is obvious 
to anyone who has eyes to see. Both Lady 
Gregory and Mr. Yeats realized that the play as 
it was written, and is now printed, was too bold 
for nnexpnrgated production. **I did not think, ^* 
Lady Gregory tells us, **it was fit to be put on the 
stage without cutting'^; and Mr. Yeats, who was 
away from Dublin during the rehearsals of the 
play, wrote to Lady Gregory: **I would like to 
know how you thought The Playboy acted. . . . 
Have they cleared many of the objectionable sen- 
tences out of itf The cuts were not made for 
the first nightj they have been made in every per- 
formance since. Those who wish to understand 
why Dublin — or a small portion of it — ^rioted on 
those first nights, should read The Playboy, and 
read it, not in the easy-going spirit in which it is 
now acted but in the light of the far fiercer humour 
of the early performances. There is no excuse for 
the abpminable behaviour of the rowdies ; but one 
would be stupid not to see how their simple emo- 
tions came to be outraged. 

M. Bourgeois, in his valuable book on Synge and 
the Irish theatre, enables us to understand how it 
was that a man of Synge 's temperament came into 
such violent collision with popular Irish opinion. 
Synge, partly as a result of physical frailty, 
^'revelled in all that was pungent, truculent and 
savage/' and although his mind was fundamen- 


tally sane, his impaired bodily health had dis- 
torted his vision from the begimiiiig." Those 
who have detected a recurrent eroticism^ espe- 
cially in his later plays, have often been reproved 
by Mr. Yeats ; but M. Bourgeois gives evidence on 
their side when he tells us how in Paris Synge 
lived for a time ^^in rooms overlooking the beau- 
tiful garden of a convent of nuns. The view of 
the convent prompted in Synge the idea of a play 
of monastic life, which Mr. Yeats read in MS., and 
which was marked by a strong eroticism." Not 
that Synge led the wild, erotic existence whidi, 
according to M. Bourgeois, has at times been im- 
puted to him. "Personally," M. Bourgeois 
writes, "he had, I believe, a profound contempt, 
at least a fundamental distaste for the promis- 
cuous sensuality of the roue. A significant anec- 
dote is told of how a friend, visiting the salon, 
. . . criticized the naked figure of a woman in 
one of Henner's pastoral paintings. Synge said 
he knew nothing of such matters. . • . Synge 
always remained as chaste and pure as ever man 
was." On the other hand, wild language shocks 
the conventional more than wild life ; and in wild 
language Synge delighted. "His language was 
often coarse, at times, I have heard, almost in- 
credibly gross, and he indulged in ntiagnificent 
swear-words, which had something of the Eliza- 
bethan or Babelaisian licentiousness." His crime 
at the Abbey Theatre was that in his plays he held 


the mirror up too boldly to certain aspects of his 
own natiire. His comic eroticisi^, his freakish de^ 
lights in characters and words that beautifully 
ignored the Ten Commandments, his mockery of 
the holy standards of conmionplace existence, 
these were too much for the respectabiUty of a 
Dublin audience. 

Synge himself, however, it is worth remember- 
ing, was never hated in Dublin as his plays were. 
He was, as M. Bourgeois reveal^ him to us, a 
gentle and attractive figure, and his gallant fight 
with death gave him a tragic interest for all who 
knew him. He died in March, 1909, in a private 
hospital in Dublin. ''In the early morning Synge 
said to the nurse: 'It's no use fighting death any 
longer, ' and turned over and died. ' ' So Mr. Yeats 
has written. Since Synge 's death the theatre can- 
not be said to have grown less bold in the fight for 
imaginative independence. The atmosphere has 
changed, however. The dramatic movement has 
in recent years turned away from romantic 
comedy towards naturalism, as may be seen in the 
plays of the younger writers, Mr. Lennox Robin- 
son, Mr. St. John Ervine and Mr. T. E. Murray. 


Mr. Yeats sometimes appears in the literary 
legend of the moment as a typical minor poet with 
a minor poet's affectations — a dreamy, effeminate 


person in sad velvet. The real Mr. Yeats is the 
very opposite of this. He is a man of aqniline 
energy, tall, thin, high-shouldered, keen-faced, a 
restless and fearless fighter for ideas. He is in 
his figare nearer Hamlet than Falstaff ; but he is 
a Hamlet of the sword. He may in one aspect 
be the Hamlet who has seen ghosts and in another 
the Hamlet who takes pleasure in riotous and 
jewelled words. His poetry has come out of some 
spirit of isolation and luxurious reverie. He is 
more than a poet, however — more than the Hamlet 
of the passive reveries and speculations. He has 
shown himself a pugnacious man of action, ever 
since, at the close of the last century, he set him- 
self to give Ireland its theatre and to make Dublin 
a capital of the arts again. 

He expressed his views on the prospects and 
functions of an Irish theatre in the course of a 
conversation some years ago. 

**We have now,'* he said, ^*a steady popular 
audience at the Abbey'* — ^the society's theatre in 
Dublin — ^^I mean an audience from the people, 
such as clerks and shop-boys. Our diMculty is 
to attract the stalls audience — the middle 

**You think, however,*' I asked him, *^that the 
upper classes in Ireland are beginning to take an 
interest in Irish things — ^the drama, for in- 

^* Undoubtedly," he said, with conviction. **I 


think we are at the beginning of a movement in 
Ireland which will affect people of all classes. I 
believe we are on the verge, just on the verge, of a 
great awakening of thought and intellect — a 
period of ideas and of liberation/ ^ 

*^And the Abbey Theatre is taking a part ia 
this movement! Do you not find that the Abbey 
plays are too * cultured,' too *high art,' to affect 
the imagination and thought of the people!" 

**No,'' replied Mr. Yeats; "we have taken our 
plays to Belfast, to Cork, to Galway, to Sligo, and 
everywhere the people have come to see them and 
liked them. Perhaps the transition stage we are 
passing through explains this. Ireland is waking 
up to new interests. In some ways Ireland at 
present is more like Elizabethan England than 
modern England. In the times of Elizabeth, 
English men and women wese passing from the 
stage where they were absorbed in the beauty of 
external things and in external events. They were 
becoming interested in the drama of the soul, in 
the struggle within a man's self, and as a result 
the Elizabethan drama is a drama of great souls. 
Synge in The Playboy is an Elizabethan writing 
about Elizabethans. Compare the people Synge 
writes about with the people in a modem English 
play, such as a play of Galsworthy's. Gals- 
worthy's people are people without souls; their 
only standards, the things they worship and fear, 
are external to themselves — social conventions, 


social systems, the British Constitution — ^all of 
them as external as the Pyramids of Egypt. 
What kind of language can you put in the mouths 
of these poor pale, shivering creatures obsessed 
by external things f Synge, on the other hand, 
gives you the drama of the soul — of his own soul, 
if you like. And the soul, when it speaks, de- 
mands splendour and beauty of language to ex- 
press itself. Synge did exactly as the Elizabethan 
dramatists did, in pouring out his soul through his 
plays in extravagant and joyous words.'* 

**But do you think, '* I interrupted him, "that 
the Irish peasant about whom Synge wrote is such 
an extravagant, joyous person as he is sometimes 
painted f 

"I think he is,'' said Mr. Yeats, *^when circum- 
stances permit it. The Irishman, I am sure, has 
a great deal of the gay, extravagant nature of the 
Elizabethan Englishman. You remember some 
traveller described the Englishman of Elizabeth's 
time as * witty, boastful and corrupt.' The Eng- 
lishman was more Continental then." 

"You believe, then, that the Irishman, like the 
Elizabethan Englishman, has a special genius for 
the drama!" 

"I do. Perhaps one reason why we are 
dramatic in instinct is that we have always had 
something to fight for. Irish life has been full of 
stress and danger — an atmosphere which makes 
for dramatic genius." 


**But the Englishman,'* I suggested, *^has been 
prosperous, and has not had the same struggle, the 
same insecurity, and yet he has produced more 
great literature than we have/' 

"Literature, perhaps,'' admitted Mr, Yeats, 
**but not drama, in the last two hundred years. 
At least the greatest English dramatists for two 
hundred years have nearly all been Irishmen, or 
have had Irish blood in their veins. I think, too, 
Havelock Ellis has made calculations shewing 
what an immense proportion of the actresses on 
the English stage have had Irish blood. Then our 
people have, perhaps more than any other people, 
the gift of fantasy. Go and talk to the Galway 
peasant and you will find it in him as you will find 
it in Synge or Lady Gregory, or Oscar Wilde, or 
Bernard Shaw, or any of the Irish dramatists. It 
is in all classes of our people. The duellists at the 
end of the eighteenth century had it. There was 
fantasy in the man who made the bet that 'within 
a year he would play ball against the walls of 
Jerusalem.' The modem Englishman would say 
baldly that within such-and-such a time he would 
go to Jerusalem and back again. Lever had this 
gift in some measure, but he was imperfectly edu- 
cated. Still, we must not underestimate Lever." 

**That reminds me. Sometimes the Abbey 
dramatists are accused, as Lever was, of not giv- 
ing us real Irish peasants at all, but a aew sort 
of stage Irishman. " • 


Mr. Yeats waved his hand in a certain restless- 
ness of scorn. ^'Perhaps," he agreed, after a 
moment, ^'our dramatists have selected some 
types rather than others, as a group of artists 
always select the types which they find most inter- 
esting. You must not think, however, that writers 
like Lady Oregory and Synge do not know the 
Irish peasant. Before Synge wrote about Irish 
peasants he had gone and lived among them, and 
Lady Gregory knows the peasant as it could never 
be said that Kickham, whose peasants were merely 
amiable fictions, knew them. Still, I think Lady 
Gregory herself has said that her plays are not 
merely about Irish life. Someone called Spread- 
ing the News a satire on an Irish village. It is 
quite as much a satire on London society. Lady 
Gregory gives us in her plays her own spiritual 
vision, using the men and women whom she knows 
best and finds most interesting as to some extent 
symbolic figures. * ' 

** Still,*' I put in, wishing to hear his opinion 
of the work of the younger men, **the new Irish 
dramas — Colum's Thomas Muskerry and Robin- 
son's The Cross Roads, for instance — tend to be 
realistic rather than Symbolic, don't they!" 

**Yes, the younger men are imdoubte<Uy becom- 
ing realistic. ' ' 

**Once when you had seen Ohosts/' 1 continued, 
^*you said that perhaps this sort of realistic 
drama was needed as the * medicine of great 



cities/ Do you think that Ireland requires the 
medicine of a realistic drama f" 

Mr. Yeats drmnmed his fingers on the arm of 
the chair, looking as though this were a problem 
which had troubled him but which he had not yet 
entirely solved. 

** Perhaps/* he said, with apparent regret. **I 
sometimes think that the realistic drama will pro- 
duce the greatest effect in Ireland.'' 

I rose to leave, but before going away, being a 
pedestrian person, troubled by polities, I said to 
him: ^'Your dislike of political obsessions in the 
theatre does not mean, I suppose, that you have 
ceased to be an Irish Nationalist!'* 

**In our theatre," he said, * Ve have nothing to 
do with politics. They could only make our art 
insincere. But, speaking for myself, I cannot see 
how the Ireland I wish for can come about with- 
out a national government." 




Immedutely a man dies for what he believes, 
everything he has said or written assumes a new 
value. One feels that, however his beliefs may 
have quarrelled with one's own, he has at any rate 
put an honest signature to his work. His words 
are no longer the mere casual utterances of a 
passing contemporary. One reads them in the 
light of his death, and they seem mysteriously 
laden with meaning, confessions out of the depths, 
a part of the poetry of fate. It is as though the 
soul of the dead man, having left his body, had 
gone to dwell in his books. We can no longer 
read them single-mindedly as literature. They 
are a ghostly bequest in regard to which we do 
not feel quite free to play the critic. That, at 
least, is the world's attitude. It is fascinated and 
unquestioning as in the presence of a spirit. 

It was in this way that Rupert Brooke became 
a figure rather than an author on the morrow of 
his death. One cannot expect The Collected 
Works of P. H. Pearse to assist to another canoni- 
zation of the same sort among English readers; 



but in Ireland the process has already begun, and 
Father Browne, in the course of his eloquent 
introduction, expresses the conviction that genera- 
tions of Irishmen yet to be bom **will come to the 
reading of this book as to a kind of Itmerariwn 
Mentis ad Deum, a journey to the realization of 
Ireland. ' * Pearse * * will appeal to the imagination 
of times to come,'' he declares **more than any 
of the rebels of the last hundred and thirty years. 
. • • His name and deeds will be taught by 
mothers to their children long before the time 
when they will be learned in school histories." 
Here then is a book which a considerable number 
of human beings already regard as a holy book 
because a man died for what is written in it., One 
cannot help, therefore, approaching it with curi- 
osity. One is no longer troubled as to whether 
one agrees with the author. It is enough for most 
of us that the author agreed, as it were, with him- 
self — that he harmonized his life with his prin- 
ciples to the last logic of djing for them. Pearse, 
it will be remembered, was the first signatory to 
the manifesto proclaiming the birth of an Irish 
Republic on Easter Monday, 1916. As President 
of the Provisional Government, he was also the 
first of the insurgent leaders to be shot. On the 
day of his death he was scarcely a name to the ma- 
jority of his fellow-countrymen. Thanks to the 
statesmanship of Sir John Maxwell, he has now 
become a historic and almost worshipped figure. 


I met Pearse, I think, only on two occasions. 
The second was when, eight years ago, he and 
Thomas MacDonagh showed me over the boys' 
school he had opened in Bathmines. A dark man 
with a qneer fixity of eye and a habit of dose and 
earnest scmtinyy he stm<& one as being first of 
all a propagandist, in contrast to MacDonagh who 
was obvionsly first of all a scholar and artist. One 
felt that conversation with Pearse would be 
mainly a discussion of causes, while conversation 
with MacDonagh might be a discussion of any- 
thing under the sun. It may have been merely a 
superficial impression; but one did not think of 
Pearse at that time either as a poet or a prose- 
writer with a place in Irisli literature. It is curi- 
ous to remember that one did not even think of 
him as a politician. One thought of him first and 
last as a man who was anxious to extend the use 
of the Irish language and to build on it a distinc- 
tively Irish culture. Once or twice, while he was 
editing the Gaelic League paper, called (in Eng- 
lish) The Sword of Light, he had shown leanings 
towards Sinn Fein ; but politics seemed with him 
to be a secondary interest. He was, in the opinion 
of most people, simply an educationist Even the 
stories he used to write in Irish struck one as 
being the work not of an artist who had to write 
or perish, but of a propagandist who was desirous 
to help the movement to produce a contemporary 
literature in the Irish language. At the same 


time, one never dreamed of regarding his en- 
thnsiasm as that of a grammarian. He was bent 
upon the making of an Irish civilization, which 
would be as unlike English civilization as is the 
civilization of France or Bohemia. One of the 
class-rooms in his school was decorated with the 
names of the great Irishmen of the past, all (or 
nearly all) of them figures of rebellion. The in- 
side of his school was painted, one fancied, so as 
to be a sort of temple of Irish heroism. I can 
recall only one trivial sentence of the conversa- 
tion of MacDonagh and Pearse on that occasion. 
It is MacDonagh 's invitation to go along to a room 
where a class in Irish phonetics taught by a well- 
known priest was being held. **Do come,'' he 
said, with a schoolboy's bright look of mischief, 

**and see Father making faces." 

The Pearse we find in the Collected Works is 
something more than an earnest schoolmaster. 
His earnestness has now been intensified into pas- 
sion. His faith has become exalted into mys- 
ticism. His plays and poems are prophetic of 
suflfering. He has now begun to beUeve in the 
necessity of bloodshed no less than in the neces- 
sity of the Irish language. He accepts the tradi- 
tional ideal of an Irish Republic, conceived by 
Wolfe Tone in sympathy with the French Revolu- 
tion and endorsed by the Fenians within living 
memory, and life presents itself to his vision as 
an altar of sacrifice to this ideal. He becomes a 


sort of evangelist crying in the wilderness that, 
for Ireland, without shedding of blood there is no 
remission of sins. He makes himself the preacher 
of a holy war on behalf of freedom. He summons 
the young men of his time to live, as a hostile critic 
I have already quoted said after his death, in the 
spirit of Christian Bushido. He becomes a vis- 
ionary and foretells battle-fields. He can scarcely 
see the present world for the flashing of swords 
on the day of destiny. He seldom descends in his 
plays and poems to the level of normal life. The 
two most interesting of his plays, The Singer and 
The King, are visions of self-sacrifice in battle. 
In the former, the curtain falls on the hero as he 
goes out against the Oall (the foreigners) with 
the cry : ' ^ One man can free a people as one Man 
redeemed the world. I will take no pike. I will 
go into the battle with bare hands. I will stand 
up before the Gall as Christ hung naked before 
men on the tree!'* 

His poems are utterances of the same passion of 
renunciation for an ideal. One of them, entitled 
Remmdatian, begins : 

Naked I saw thee, 
O beauty of beauty. 
And I blinded mine eyes 
For fear I should fail. 

He writes as one who has deliberately thrown over 
the happy life of artists and lovers for the des- 
tiny of the martyr: 


I blinded my eyes, 
And I closed my ears, 
I hardened my heart 
And I smothered my desire. 

I turned my back 
On the vision I had shaped. 
And to this road before me 
I turned my face. 

I have turned my face 
To this road before me, 
To the deed that I see 
And the death I shall die. 

One or two of the poems certainly reveal the 
fact that Pearse had in him the genius of the 
artist to a degree that one used not to imagine 
possible. There is, for instance, the Lullahy of a 
Woman of the Motmtain, which begins : 

Little gold head, my house's candle, 

Tou will guide all wayfarers that walk this mountain. 

Little soft mouth that my breast has known, 
Mary will kiss you as she passes. 

Little round cheek, O smoother than satin, 
Jesus will lay His hand on you. 

The last verses of this poem are especially charm- 
ingy expressing in a beautiful way the little noisy 
world of night that must be sung to silence : 

Mary's kiss on my baby's mouth, 

Christ's little hand on my darling's cheek! 

House, be still, and ye little grey mice. 
Lie dose tonight in your hidden lairs. 


Maths on the window fold your wings. 
Little blaek chafers, silence your humming. 

PloTer and curlew, fly not otct my hoose. 

Do not speak, wild barnacle, passing otct the moontain. 

Things of the mountain that wake in the night-time, 
Do not stir to-nii^t till the daylight whitens I 

One finds the same charm, the same catalogoish 
charm, in The Wayfarer. It is not a great poem, 
but it is a very moving poem, and, in revealing 
the list of the things that Pearse loved, it shows 
that he had the imagination of a poet — ^the imagi- 
nation that aches as it beholds the visible beauty 
of the world. In The Wayfarer he meditates 
sadly on all he was so passionately to renounce : 

The beauty of the world hath made me sad. 

This beauty that will pass; 

Sometimes my heart hath shalcen with great joy 

To see a leaping squirrel in a tree. 

Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk. 

Or little rabbits in a field at evening. 

Lit by a slanting-sun. . . . 

It is not of his own renunciation he is thinking, 
however, but of the impermanence of all lovely 
things — ^the theme of so much of the world's 
poetry. He thinks last of all — ^he was always spe- 
cially moved by the ways of children — of ; 

Children with bare feet upon the sands 
Of some ebbed sea, or playing in the streets 
Of little towns in Connacht, 
Things young and hi^py. 


And then my heart hath told me: 

These will pass. 

Will pass and change, will die and be no more. 

Things bright and green, things young and happy; 

And I have gone upon my way 


It is as illustrations of the moods of an Irish 
Republican rather than as poems of independent 
beauty that these poems will be read by most 
people for many years to come. That he met his 
death as he did makes his rann, or song, in praise 
of deatn as significant to us as an actual experi- 

One finds a certain mawkishness in one of his 
poems, lAttle Lad of the Trichs,^as in some of his 
earlier stories; and one dislikes finding a child 
addressed in such a verse as : 

There is a fragrance in your kiss 

That I have not found yet 

In the kisses of women 

Or in the honey of their bodies. 

On the other hand, the poems about freedom 
cannot be accused of being sentimental. They are 
exultant, high-voiced, passionate, like the im- 
provisations of a bard. One can almost see the 
hand sweeping the strings as one reads the open- 
ing lines of The Rebel: 

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow, 
That haye no treasure but hope. 
No riches laid up but a memory 
Of an Ancient glory. . . . 


Ooe can see the hushed audience, tense with emo- 
tion, as the evangel proceeds to its rapturous 
confession of faith: 

I mj to mj people tliat they mre boly, tliat thej are ftugnat, 

deqiite their chains* 
Ihai thej are greater than thoee that hold them, and etronger 

and purer. 
That they have hat need of courage, and to call on the name 

of their God, 
God the nnforgetting, the dear God that loyea Uie peoplea 
For whom He died naked, snffering sliame. 

The religious element in Pearse's patriotic poetry 
will puzzle those readers who judge him not ac- 
cording to his ideal but according to their own. 
They must remember that to his mind Ireland was 
as distinct a nation from England as Poland is 
from Bussia or Germany, and Home Rule seemed 
to him merely a subtle form of Unionism. He be- 
lieved that the full measure of Irish freedom could 
only be won if he and his contemporaries were 
ready to die for it. He admitted it could only be 
won by a miracle, but he called for the miracle : 

And 00 I epeak. 

Tea, e^e mj hot yonth paae^ I npeak to my people and say: 

Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not sare; 

Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all; 

Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word. 

And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter, 

people that I have loved, shall we not answer together? . . . 

The bard of old was half rhapsodist and half 
poet^ and that, I should say, is the nearest one 

nriTfT" ¥1 


can get to an exact description of Pearse as an 
author. His stories scarcely count; they are too 
much lacking in the detail of life. Other writers 
of fiction in Irish, such as Mr. Padraic O'Conaire, 
surpass him as creative artists. But the poems 
and plays have the voice of a man tortured with 
circumstance — a man across whose face breaks 
the light of an apocalyptic faith. I confess I see 
more error than truth in the faith in redemption 
by bloodshed. But these plays and poems are 
beautiful with a far finer faith than that — ^f aith in 
the destiny of the poor and the oppressed, and in 
the power of self-sacrifice to redeem the travailing 



Whbv Mrs. Oreen'8 Jmfc Jfationality was pub- 
lished, a writer in a Dublin paper b^;an his review 
of it with the words: ''By Gk)d, this is a book!" 
That sentence suggests, a little violently, the Irish 
opinion of Mrs. Green's place as a historian. No 
lover of the cold (or, if you like the word better, 
the inanimate) facts of history ever broke out into 
an exclamation like that in book-review. It was 
obviously written by one who regarded Mrs. 
Oreen, not as a bloodless chronicler of events but 
as the champion and vindicator of a nation. 

If anyone doubts that Ireland needed a cham- 
pion in the historical even more than in the politi- 
cal sphere, he will do well to read Mrs. Green's 
own short essay, "The Way of History in Ire- 
land." It is an exposure, at once impassioned 
and wittily contemptuous, of the way in which the 
historians, instead of setting themselves to open 
up new fields of knowledge in Irish history, have 
successively contented themselves with muddying 
the pedigree of the Irish people. ''History does 
not repeat itself," said either TVllde or Mr. Max 
Beerbohm; "historians repeat each other." And 


the witticism is seriously true of most of the Irish 
history that has been written. One after another, 
the historians have leaped through the gap of 
tradition, like a rout of sheep, and pastured on 
the old fables that represent the seven-hundred- 
years' duel between England and Ireland as a duel 
between civilization, on the one hand, and bar- 
barism on the other. This was scarcely ques- 
tioned in collegiate circles. One accepted it as one 
accepted the superiority of Abraham Lincoln to 
Sitting Bull, of Queen Victoria to the Queen of 
the Baganda. To contend that the quarrel be- 
tween England and Ireland, so far from being a 
quarrel between civilization and barbarism, was a 
quarrel between one civilization and another, 
would have been regarded as a paradox of which 
only an irresponsible Irishman would be capable. 
More than that, it would have been to challenge 
the whole world of political and social ideas in 
which the historians of Ireland had hitherto lived 
and moved and had their being. It would even 
have been to question the ethics of Imperialism. 
For Irish history has been written for the most 
part, not in the service of truth but in the service 
of Empire. 

In Ireland, as Mrs. Green says, ** history has a 
peculiar doom. It is enslaved in the chains of the 
Moral Tale — the good man (English) who pros- 
pered, and the bad man (Irish) who came to a 
shocking end." If an Irishman ventured to cast 


doubt on the political tract that resulted— whether 
on its ideas or its instances — ^he was dismissed in 
a scholarly and judicial manner as a i)olitician, a 
biassed and querulous person, and any references 
to massacres and murders perpetrated by Eliza- 
bethan civiUzers were discountenanced as pe- 
culiarly unpleasant examples of ''the Irish 
whine. ' ' In this way the Irish people were slowly 
being drained of that self-respect which comes of 
being conscious heirs to a fine tradition. More 
and more of them were coming to say, in tones 
of self-pity and resignation: **Ah, where would 
we be without England?" Irish history before 
the arrival of Strongbow ''came to be looked on 
as merely a murky prelude to the civilizing work 
of England — ^a preface, savage, transitory, and of 
no permanent interest, to be rapidly passed over 
till we come to the English pages of the book." 
Clearly a nation which accepted such an account 
of its ancestry as this without question would be 
on the road to spiritual slavery. 

It would be absurd to suggest that Mrs. Oreen 
was the first writer who sought to bring Ireland 
out of the Egypt in which the historians had 
bound her. From Lynch, the author of Cam- 
hrensis Eversus, down to Dr. Joyce, many fine- 
hearted scholars have given us Irish history from 
the Irish, instead of the Imperial, point of view. 
Patriots, such as John Mitchel, too, have written 
history, out of imaginations of blood and fire, and 



the common people have kept alive rumours of an 
ancestry of kings— rumours which only helped to 
convince a good many people that the melancholy 
Celt was also a melancholy humbug. But none of 
t^ese praisers of Ireland caught the ear of the 
universities or of the world which the universities 
feed with the latest fashion in learning. The only 
thing recognized as having any excellence in the 
long procession of Irish history since the time of 
the saints was a colonial, not a nationaly institu- 
tion — ^Grattan's Parliament. That this was ad- 
mitted to have any virtue was due chiefly to the 
fresh-eyed a^d honest scholarship of Lecky. Mrs. 
Green bids fair to do for Ireland a9 a whole, the 
Ireland of Art MacMurrough and Margaret 
O'Connor and the O'Neills, what Lecky did for 
the restricted Ireland of Swift and Grattan. She 
is the first writer taking what we might call a 
Continental view of history to offer us anything 
better than the dreary traditional statement of the 
record of Ireland. An authority on the social life 
of mediaeval Europe, a historian who had already 
won the praise of scholars by her work in English 
history,, a brilliant, eloquent and imaginative 
writer, possessed of an indomitable patience in 
research and an indomitable faith, she has given 
Ireland for the first time what it so badly needed 
in regard to its history — a skilled advocate before 
the world. 
Mrs. Green does not profess to have rewritten 


Irish history. As may be seen in her reply to 
the strictures of Mr. Robert Dnnlop oil her most 
important work, The Making of Ireland and its 
Undoing, she claims merely to have brought for- 
ward certain new evidence showing that ''need 
has arisen for an entire review of the whole ma- 
terials for Irish history and of the old conclu- 
sions/' Her Making of Ireland and its Undoing 
is a brilliant setting forth of the case for inquiry. 
Further than this, it instances a thousand good 
reasons for believing that the mediaeval Irish, so 
far from being a mob of barbarians addicted to 
the slaughter of their near relatives, as they were 
generally painted, were comparatively ordinary 
white Europeans who ''made money, traded, built 
houses, talked Latin, studied medicine and law, 
[and] otherwise behaved like other people of the 
Middle Ages." Other historians were content to 
repeat, like a litany, the Newgate Calendar of 
mediseval Ireland. Mrs. Green, in the first place, 
reminded them that warfare between small com- 
munities was not confined to Ireland in those days, 
and went on to show that besides a good deal of 
blood-letting, mediseval Ireland was also a scene 
of "cheerful progress of trade and culture," and 
that this progress was deliberately destroyed by 
the civilizing agencies of Dublin Castle. 

Orthodox historians, relying on the reports of 
casual and official travellers, who usually did not 
know a word of the language of the country, 


refuse, of course, to credit the evidence for the 
existence of an Irish national civilization* Mrs. 
Green, in one of the most attractive chapters of 
The Old Irish World, which she calls *'A Great 
Irish Lady,'* gives us a sketch of a very noble im- 
personation of Irish culture in the fifteenth cen- 
tury. This was Margaret O'Connor, who called 
the learned of all Ireland about her at a great fes- 
tival at Ealleigh, in 1434, when, **clad in cloth of 
gold, her dearest friends about her, her clergy and 
judges too,'* she began the festivities by laying 
two chalices of gold on the altar as an offering to 
God Almighty, and dispensed hospitality to 2,700 
poets and musicians and learned men. Such a 
living figure of Irish culture is set in vain before 
the makers of orthodox history. They prefer to 
judge the social condition of the ** native Irish'' by 
what Fynes Moryson says he heard from a 
Bohemian baron, whose name he does not give. 
Or, rather, as Mrs. Green shows, they base their 
judgments, not on what Fynes Moryson said the 
Bohemian baron said, but on what they themselves 
say Fynes Moryson said the Bohemian baron said 
— a very different thing. In Fynes Moryson we 
read how the baron, coming to the house of the 
O'Cahan, **was met at the door with sixteen 
women, aU naked, excepting their loose mantles" 
and so forth. That is much too simple and vague 
a story for Froude, who accordingly transforms 
the mantle-clad women—who might have been 


servants, dependants or refugees — into '^ daugh- 
ters of distinguished Ulster chiefs/' squatting in 
their fathers' castles '4n the presence of stran- 
gers, and bare of clothing, as if Adam had never 
sinned." Professor Mahaffy, in an essay in an 
excellent publication of the Georgian Society, 
added his share of corroborative detail to the 
story, and spoke of ^^ the O'Cahan in his wigwam, 
surrounded by his stark-naked wives and daugh- 
ters.*' Thus is Irish Jiistory written by the im- 
partial and judicial scholars of Empire. In this 
way, what Mrs. Green calls ^'the barbarian 
legend" has been heroically kept alive. 

Like many pioneers, Mrs. Green has to devote 
a great part of her energies to cutting a way 
through a monstrous forest of falsehood ; but, in 
essays such as those on Margaret O'Connor and 
on *'The Trade Boutes of Ireland," she ever and 
again pauses to announce her vision of the pleas- 
ant places of truth that lie beyond. Those who 
have been accustomed to think of Ireland as ^^an 
island beyond an island," with its very means of 
communication with the Continent lying through 
England, will be surprised to discover that the^ 
original Irish path to Europe was apparently not 
through England at all, but directly oversea to 
Spain and Southern France and Scandinavia. 
What traffic did Ireland carry on with these coun- 
tries? Her great gift to the Continent in the early 
days was, of course, not commerce, but learning 


and reUgion; but even then there was manifestly 
considerable exchange of commodities^ and an old 
poet conld speak of Leinster with ^4ts wine- 
barque upon the purple flood ; its shower of silver 
of great splendour; its torques of gold from the 
land of the Gaul." As for Ireland as a centre of 
distribution of culture to Europe, Mrs. Green 
writes : 

'^Ireland became the source of culture to all 
Germanic nations ; indeed, wherever in the seventh 
and following centuries education and knowledge 
is found, it may be traced directly to Irish in- 
fluence. It has been justly said that at the time 
of Charles the Bald every one who spoke Greek 
on the Continent was almost certainly an Irish- 
man, or taught by an Irishman. By degrees, Irish 
monasteries, built and supported by Irish money, 
spread over Europe from Holland to Tarentum, 
from Gaul to Bulgaria." 

Nor did this direct Continental intercourse cease 
for many hundreds of years. Through the long 
centuries, Mrs. Green tells us, the Irish *' never 
lost the habit of the sea and of Europe." 

^'In the Middle Ages Spanish coin was almost 
the chief currency in Ireland, so great was the 
Irish trade with Spain ; and in the eighteenth cen- 
tury the country was still full of Spanish, Portu* 


guese, and French money in daily use — the moy- 
dore, the doubloon, the pistole, the louis d'or, the 
new Portuguese gold coin. So much so that in. 
the Peninsular War Ireland was ransacked for 
foreign coins to send to the army in Spain and 

The passages I have quoted will ^ve some idea of 
Mrs. Green's aim and achievement as an Irish his- 
torian. She had rehabilitated Ireland as a civi- 
lized European country with an almost continuous 
record of commerce in trade and learning with 
other European countries — ^not a barbarous island 
beyond an island, a province in a backwater, as the 
Imperialists pictured it in the nineteenth century, 
but an enterprising and culture-loving nation. 
She makes us realize the Ireland of history as a 
living and growing conmionwealth instead of as 
the conventional shambles. Is the account an 
impartial one! Mrs. Green, in a happy phrase, 
disclaims ** impartiality of the heart." **Love," 
says an Eastern proverb, **is the net of truth." 
That is the secret of Mrs. Green's genius as a his- 
torian. To great gifts of the mind she has added 
great gifts of the heart. That is why she has suc- 
ceeded in arriving at a human and beautiful inter- 
pretation of Irish history where a thousand 
colder-blooded scholars have lost themselves as in 
a maze without a plan. 



It would surprise a good many people to be told 
that Mr. George Bnssell is the greatest man Ire- 
land has produced since Pamell. Yet this is the 
considered opinion of many intelligent Irishmen. 
Ndt that there are many points of comparison be- 
tween the genins of Mr. Bnssell and the genins of 
Pamell. Pamell was a destroying angel; Mr. 
Bnssell is a creative idealist. Pamell devoted his 
life to the siege and assault of that lonely castle 
of injustice known as foreign government. Mr. 
Bnssell has set himself to lay the foundations of 
a sociable world which the sons and daughters of 
God may inhabit without shame. Painter, poet, 
journalist, mystic and politician — ^not a party poli- 
tician, but a builder of civilization — he has thrown 
himself into the work of maintaining the co-opera- 
tive cause in Ireland with a gay and superabun- 
dant energy of soul and intellect that bears the 
mark of the heroic. As editor of The Irish Home- 
stead, the weekly organ of the Irish co-operative 
movement, he ^ves us what is probably the only 
agricultural journal in the world which non-agri- 



cultural citizens can read not merely without bore- 
dom but with delight. 

The secret of Mr. Bussell's appeal is fairly ob- 
vious. His whole work, whether as poet, phUoso- 
pher or co-operative propagandist, is an expres- 
sion of a divine vision — ^the vision of the republic 
of Ood, here built in the heart of an individual 
man and exhibiting itself as a heroic life, and there 
built in the heart of a whole people and exhibiting 
itself as a heroic civilization. For A. E. is not a 
mystic in order that the soul may indulge herself 
in bizarre experiences, and he is not a co-operator 
in order that the farmer may get a penny a pound 
extra for his butter. His mystidsm is allied to the 
genius of the earth and the common day, and he 
aims at illumining agricultural co-operation with 
something of the light of heaven. 

He is thus a realist among mystics and an 
idealist among practical men. His message to the 
mystic and to the farmer is, as I have said, very 
much the same. ** Every word which really in- 
spires," he writes, in The Renewal of Touth, '4s 
spoken as if the Golden Age had never passed. 
The great teadiers ignore the personal identity 
and speak to the eternal pilgrim." ''The soul of 
Ireland," he declares in Co-operation and 
Nationality, "has to be kindled, and it can only 
be kindled by the thought of great deeds, and not 
by the hope of petty parsimonies or petty gains." 
Consequently, this voice from the Golden Age dis- 


guised as a journalist of the world of pigs and 
dairies and bees is not satisfied to tell the Irish 
farmer how by combination he can capture this 
or that market. **The true significance of the 
movement promoted by Sir Horace Plunkett/' he 
contends, ^4s that it is an attempt to build up a 
new social order in Ireland/' 

Irish rural civilization has, he sees, been ruined 
by a number of causes. And Ireland has not been 
given, as other countries have, an alternative civi- 
lization of the towns. The Irish country-side has 
become a desert of grass and songlessness. As 
for the Irish towns : 

* * We should rage and prophesy over them as the 
prophets of ancient Israel did over Tyre and 

Here is ruin indeed — ^ruin a little exaggerated, 
perhaps, by the prophet *s wrath — ^but ruin enough 
to call for the labours of giants. Most people are 
vaguely satisfied that the ruin can be patched up, 
if not turned into an earthly paradise, by help 
from a beneficent monster called Government. 
A.E. sees that the appeal for the salvation of Ire- 
land must be not to Government, but to the na- 
tional will and soul. He realizes that Congested 
Districts Boards and similar inventions of the 
politicians, whatever real and apparent good they 
may do, are a danger to, the will and the self- 


respect of the people they profess to help. As 
a result of these persistent State tamperings with 
the daily lives of Irish men and women, we are 
now witnessing, he holds, '^the tragedy of the de- 
cline and fall of the human will in the i>eople. 
• • • The will is growing powerless to act with- 
out partnership with its fetish or idol the State." 
And again, in a later chapter, he tells us: '^The 
effect of the policy of our present public men is 
to turn the Irish into a race of economic babies, 
with their lips for ever nuzzling at the nipples of 
the State." 

To my mind many of the evils of government 
attacked by A. E. are due to the fact that in Ire- 
land government does not mean government by 
the people themselves but government from 
abroad. The attractiveness of his dream of a new 
civilization, however, is independent of his sub- 
sidiary arguments. Socialists and anti-Socialists 
may unite in working for this new co-operative 
commonwealth which A. E. desires to build first 
in the hearts and then in the country-sides of Ire- 
land ^^ Wherever there is mutual aid," he tells 
us, **. . . wherever there is constant give-and- 
take, wherever the prosperity of the individual 
depends on the prosperity of the community about 
him, there the social order tends to produce fine 
types of character, with a devotion to public ideas ; 
and this is the real object of all government." 
That is surely not opposed to William Morris, who 


would also have agreed that **the phrase, * Every 
man for himself,' is one of the maxims in the 
gospel according to Beelzebub. The deviPs game 
with men is to divide and conquer them/' 

And A. E.'s vision of some of the possibilities 
opened up by co-operative habits and sentiments 
would hardly have left that artist-designer of a 
Socialist dvilization cold : 

**The men in any rural district, united to- 
gether, could make the land they live in as lovely 
to looE on as the fabled gardens in the valley of 
Damascus. They could have fruit trees along the 
hedgerows, and make the country roads beautiful 
with colour in spring. This has been done in many 
a rural commune on the Continent, and there is no 
reason why it should not be done here. Only let 
us get our men together, get them organized and 
one improvement will rapidly follow another. 
For all great deeds by races, all civilizations, were 
built up by the voluntary efforts of men united 
together. Sometimes one feels as if there were 
some higher mind in humanity which could not act 
through individuals, but only through brother- 
hoods and groups of men. ^yhow, the civiliza- 
tion which is based on individualism is mean, and 
the civilization based upon great guilds, fraterni- 
ties, communes and associations is of a higher 
order. If we are to have any rural civilization in 
Ireland it must spring out of co-operation." 


It is the distinction of A. £. that he does not 
paint Utopiasi but holds np channing and rea- 
lizable visions to those who woold set about bnUd- 
ing a rural civilization in Ireland— or, indeed, in 
England, either. He wants to see a newer Athens 
given to the world, not in terms of the city, but in 
terms of the country, and he comes as a messenger 
to the Irish people, bidding them no longer be 
mere dole-gatherers with shadowy wills, bat 
take upon themselves the burden of being effi- 
cient in their daily business, humane and dis- 
tinguished in their culture, social in their pleas- 
ures, and heroic in their aims. Never before 
has so irresistible a call been uttered for the 
establishment of a fine free civilization in 

Not that A. E. is given to speaking soothing 
and gracious things. He can denounce his fellows 
like a Jonah when he has a mind to it. His prose 
especially is, like so much good prophet's prose, 
only less apt to fly into a passion of denunciation 
than into a passion of ideals. He broods calm as 
a seer in his verse and on his canvases. His prose 
is often the prose of a controversialist with a lash. 
Everyone remembers his punishment of Mr. Kip- 
ling in an '^open letter" which he contributed to 
The Daily News during the Ulster crisis, after 
Mr. Kipling had written a shrill, old-maidish 
poem about ^^ hells declared for those that serve 
not Bome.'' If Mr. Kipling is sensitive, its blaz- 


ing nobleness must have disturbed him beyond any 
other criticism that was ever directed against his 
work. But A. E. is as bold in prophesying against 
the country he loves as against the poet who 
maligned it. In an essay called Religion and Love 
he charges Ireland with sin with an anger pos- 
sible only to a lover or an enemy. **The home life 
in Ireland/' he declares, ^4s probably more 
squalid than with any other people equally pros- 
perous in Europe. The children, begotten with- 
out love, fill more and more the teeming asylums.*' 
I quote this not because I entirely agree with it — 
I doubt whether lovelessness is responsible for 
nearly as many admissions into Irish asylums as 
malnutrition and tea — ^but as an example of A.E.'s 
preference of the home truth to the senti- 
mental lie in dealing with Irish or any other ques- 
tions. His scorn of the ^ ^ made marriage ' ' and the 
haggling over dowries leads him even to belittle 
the reputation of Irishwomen for virtue. "A girl, 
without repining,'* he says, **will follow her four- 
legged dowry to the house of a man she may never 
have spoken twenty words to before her marriage. 
We praise our women for their virtue, but the 
general acceptance of the marriage as arranged 
shows so unemotional, so undesirable a tempera- 
ment, that it is not to be wondered at. One won- 
ders was there temptation." And he doubts not 
only whether 'Irishwomen are virtuous in any fine 
sense, but whether the Irish people as a whole 

1 f 


deserve their reputation for being a religions and 
spiritual race. 

**It is*' (he writes) **the essentially irreligious 
spirit of Ireland which has come to regard love as 
an unnecessary emotion and the mingling of the 
sexes as dangerous. For it is a curious thing that, 
while we commonly regard ourselves as the most 
religious people in Europe, the reverse is prob- 
ably true. The country which has never produced 
spiritual thinkers or religious teachers of whom 
men have heard, if we except Berkeley and per- 
haps the remote Johannes Scotus Erigena, can- 
not pride itself on its spiritual achievement.'' 

And in the end we are left with the damnation 
of contemporary Ireland in the sentence : 

^^Bante had a place in his Inferno for the joy- 
less soulSy and if his conception be true, the popu- 
lation of that circle will be largely modem Irish." 

like many tempestuous prophets, however, A.E. 
will not permit other people to damn where he 
himself damns. I have mentioned his castigation 
of Mr. Kipling. He is equally at odds with the 
realists of the Abbey Theatre who dwell with too 
loving an insistence on the vices of Ireland. In 
an essay, entitled Ideals of the New Rural Society, 
he writes : 


"Ireland is a horribly melancholy and cynical 
country. Our literary men and poets, who ought 
to give us courage, have taken to writing about the 
Irish as a people who *went forth to battle, but 
always fell,' sentimentalizing over incompetence 
instead of invigorating us and liberating us and 
directing our energies. We have developed a new 
and clever school of Irish dramatists who say 
they are holding the mirror up to Irish peasant 
nature; but they reflect nothing but decadence. 
They delight in the broken lights of sincerity, the 
rufiSan who beats his wife, the weakling who is 
unfortunate in love and who goes and drinks him- 
self to death, while the little, decaying country 
towns are seized with avidity and exhibited on the 
^tage in every kind of decay and human futility 
and meanness." 

Considering A. E.'s own indictments of Irish life, 
this seems a little unfair. One is also inclined to 
ask him how he, who is so suspicious of ethical 
intrusions into the art of painting, can justify 
himself for demanding these intrusions into the 
art of literature. Surely the tragic figuration of 
suffering in Mr. Lennox Robinson's play. The 
Cross Roads — ^the play concerning the wife- 
beater which A. E. attacks — ^is a legitimate and 
even noble aim in imaginative literature. One 
feels that Mr. Bobinson's sunless realism is the 
result, not of intellectual malice but of imaginar 

r N 


dive comprehension and pity. A. E/s theory of 
literature, however, will not allow any traffic^in^^ 
with ignoble types. His theory of painting is as 
unethical as Whistler's: his literary creed is 
nearer Tolstoy's. In his essay. Nationality and 
Coamopolitanism, he seems to hope for the com- 
ing of an Irish literature which will hold up heroic 
types for the imitation of the people. * ^ The litera- 
ture of a people,*' he believes, *'is for ever creat- 
ing a new soul among its people," and he sees no 
chance of any good thing coming to Ireland from 
the pursuit of decadent European models, which 
only disclose ^Hhe old wolfish lust, hiding itself 
beneath the golden fleece of the spirit." That 
sentence, however, is a protest not against Mr. 
Bobinson but against Mr. Teats, who wrote The 
Autumn of the Body to recommend French 
examples to the Irish. A. E. will go to school 
neither to French nor to English literature — at 
least, so far as he desires a literature of heroic 
types. As for English literature, he writes : 

'^English literature has always been more sym- 
pathetic with actual beings than with ideal types, 
and cannot help us much. A man who loves 
Dickens, for example, may prove to have a great 
tolerance for the grotesque characters which are 
the outcome of the social order in England, but 
he will not be assisted in the conception of a 
higher humanity; and this is true of very many 


English writers who lack a fundamental philoso- 
phy, and are content to take man as he seems to 
be for the moment rathef than as the pilgrim of 
eternity — ^as one who is flesh to-day but who may 
hereafter prove divine, and who may shine at last 
like the stars of tnoming, triumphant among the 
sons of God.'* 

That passage in a measure implies a criticism of 
A. E. as well as of Dickens^ His own art is in- 
habited by divine thoughts instead of human 
beings. Whether in his lyrics or his landscapes, 
it is the divine rather than the human interests 
that predominate. He is too much of a visionary 
to be content with the humours and observations 
of the realist. 

At the same time, it is less the literary critic 
that speaks in these sentences than the builder and 
maker of the Golden Age in Ireland. A. E. is a 
patriot who, amid all his indignation, dreams 
dreams of Ireland such as Blake dreamed of Eng- 
land. Few voices so eloquent in the field of social 
prophecy have been heard since Mazzini's and 
Buskin's. He summons Irishmen not to middle- 
dass success but to the politics of inspiration. 

**The countryside in Ireland*' (he declares) 
<< could blossom into as much beauty as the hillsidea 
in mediaeval Italy if we could but get rid of our 
self-mistrust. We have all that any race evec had 


to inspire them, the heavens overhead^ the earth 
nndemeathi and the breath of life in our nostrils. 
I would like to exile the man who wonld set limits 
to what we can do, who would take the crown and 
sceptre from the human will, and say, marking 
out some petty enterprise as the limit : * Thus far 
can we go and no farther, and here shall our life 
be stayed.' *' 

Is not the country to be envied in which a hot- 
gospeller of eg^s and turnips (if one may use the 
phrase without offence) can summon his fellows 
to the Promised Land in accents like these : 

** We in Ireland should not live only from day to 
day, for the day 'only, like the beasts in the field, 
but should think of where all this long cavalcade 
of the Gael is tending, and how and in what man- 
ner their tents will be pitched in the evening of 
their generation. A national purpose is the most 
unconquerable and victorious of all things on 
earth. It can raise up Babylon from the sands 
of the desert, and make imperial civilizations 
spring from a score of huts, and after it has 
wrought its will it can leave monuments that seem 
as everlasting a portion of nature as the rocks. 
The Pyramids and the Sphinx on the sands of 
Egypt have seemed to humanity for centuries as 
much a portion of nature as Errigal, or Ben- 
bulben, or Slieve Gullion, has seemed a portion of 
natui'e to our eyes in Ireland." 


A. E.'s prose does not bear the stamp of his 
gemns so indubitably as does his poetry. None 
the less, it is the prose of a great man, whether 
he writes on Mr. Yeats or G. F. Watts, on the 
sonl of man or the reconstmctioa of rural society. 

nine-tenths of those who admire him most pas- 
sionately are a little uncertain whether at times 
he is humbugging them or not— whether, indeed, 
he is not humbugging himself. They are carried 
away by the large images of his poetry; they are 
moved by the twilight beauty of his landscapes; 
they respond to his eloquence as a seer of the 
co-operative commonwealth. But when it comes 
to the demi-gods, fairies, spirits or whatever you 
care to call those plumed and fiery creatures of 
his vision, all but a few out-and-out disciples smile 
questioningly at one another. In their hearts they 
regard these things as the eccentricities of a great 
man rather than as inhabitants of earth, air or 
eternity. They think of them as rather comic, like 
Blake's vision of the ghost of a flea which he once 
leaped out of bed to set down on paper. The truth 
is, in hearing of visions of this kind, most of us 
are like children hearing a stranger speak a lan- 
guage we do not know. We are amused, as at 
gibberish, never pausing to reflect that the sense 


may be in the stranger's speech and the lack of 
understanding in ourselves. And the more igno- 
rant we are» the most disinclined are we to be seri- 
ously inquisitive beyond the tiny circle of our own 
world. In the proverbs, it is the ignorant man 
who believes in wonders. In reality, it is more 
often the - ignorant man who laughs at won- 
ders. We are by nature unbelievers in a great 
part of our being. We even regard our unbe- 
Uef as a proof that we possess a sense of 

In a world in which death and distress are all 
about us, however, we need a faith as well as a 
sense of humour ; and we cannot afford to dismiss 
in a flurry of prejudice the faith of any man who 
writes in good faith. We should be especially 
foolish to be impatient of the faith of a true i>oet 
who comes making us such bounteous offers as 
A. E. '^Sitting in your chair," he assures us, 
''you can travel farther than ever Columbus 
travelled, and to lordlier worlds than his eyes have 
rested on. Are you tired of surfaces? Come with 
me, and we will bathe in the Fountains of Touth. 
I can point you the way to El Dorado." This is 
a cheerful promise, a golden summons. What 
warrant have we that A. E. is not asking us to 
chase a will-o'-the-wisp t What warrant have we 
that he has not been chasing a will-o'-the-wisp him- 
self with the genius of an imaginative mant We 
can but listen attentively to his story and ponder 



it, ringing it on our sense of truth like a coin on a 

A. Ei. tells us that his visionary life does not go 
back to his infancy. * * I never, ' ' he declares, * * felt 
a light in childhood which faded in manhood into 
the common light of day, nor do I believe that 
childhood is any nearer than age to the vision. 
... I was not conscious in my boyhood of any 
heaven lying about me." At the same time, we 
find, in a chapter in The Candle of Vision, that 
while he was still in his teens he was in many 
respects the visionary that we. know to-day. We 
see him walking along the country roads of 
Armagh at night with a dream-world in his head : 
^^If I walked across my lawns in darkness, the 
grasses stirred by my feet would waken to vivid 
colour and glimmer behind me with a trail of 
green fire.*' While he was still only seventeen or 
eighteen he was already trying to express this 
mystic dream-world in paint, and "began with 
much enthusiasm a series of pictures which were 
to illustrate the history of man from his birth in 
the Divine Mind, where he glimmered first in the 
darkness of chaos in vague and monstrous forms, 
growing ever nigher to the human, to men-beasts 
and men-birds, until at last the most perfect form, 
the Divine idea of man, was born in space.'' In 
connection with these boyish paintings, A. E. 
relates an extraordinary experience. As he 
brooded oyer one of the pictures, wondering what 


legend to write beneath it, he begfeui to feel ^^like 
one who is in a dark room and hears the breathin^r 
of another creatnre/' and something whispered to 
him, ''Call it 'The Birth of Moil' " Abont a 
fortnight later, A. E. was in the National 
Library in Dnblin waiting for the attendant to 
give him a book, when his eye fell on a volmne that 
was lying open on a table. It was a dictionary of 
religion, and the first word that canght his eye was 
"iBon,'' and "it was explained as a word nsed by 
the Gnostics to designate the first created beings." 
Most people, as they read this, will mnrmnr some- 
thing abont "coincidence'' — a blessederword than 
"Mesopotamia" itself. A. E., however, trembled 
at his discovery, and so great was the impression 
it n[iade npon him that he has ever since called 
himself by the first two letters of the mysterious 
word, "^on." He intended, we are told, to take 
"iBon" as a pseudonym, but a printer, finding his 
handwriting not easy to decipher, printed only the 
first two letters, with a question-mark for the rest. 
A. E., in his proof, deleted the question-mark, and 
left "A. E."— or rather, "^" standing. Thus 
we see that even his mysterious initials are a sort 
of record of strange experiences belonging to the 
same world from which came the voices to Joan 
of Arc. 

Nor did this experience stand alone. A. E. gives 
us an account of a considerable number of visions, 
some of them prophetic, some of them explicable 


by thought-transference, which came to him in 
those early years. He began then to cultivate 
what may be called the habit of vision. For this, 
one is interested to learn, he believes that no spe- 
cial genius is needed. ** Genius I" he exclaims. 
'* There is no stinting of this by the keeper of the 
Treasure House. It is not bestowed, but it is won. 
Yon man of heavy soul might if he willed play, 
upon the lyre of Apollo, that drunkard be god- 
intoxicated. ' ' He does not pretend, however, that 
the power of evocation, the mastery of one's 
vision, comes without labour. He tells us how he 
himself set to work to attain mastery over the 
will. ^^I would choose some mental object, an ab- 
straction of form, and strive to hold my mind fixed 
on it in unwearying concentration, so that not for 
a moment, not for an instant, would the concen- 
tration slacken. It is an exercise this, a training 
for higher adventures of the soul: it is no light 
labour. The ploughman's cleaving the furrows is 
easier by far. Five minutes of this effort will at 
first leave us trembling as at the close of a labori- 
ous day." A. E.'s theory is that the body fights 
its hardest to suppress the spirit's attempt to 
become free. ^^ Empires do not send legions so 
quickly to frustrate revolt as all that is mortal in 
us hurries along nerve, artery, and every highway 
of the body to beset the soul." At first, he tells 
us, his vision sometimes made him vain ; he was 
like a person who at the rising of the sun would 


say: '^ThiB glory is mine.'' But he always paid 
the penalty for sneh vain self-deceptions. ''By 
the sudden uprising of such vanities in the midst 
of vision I was often outcast" He maintains, in- 
deed, that those who make use of the higher 
powers of vision for selfish ends are in grave 
periL '^Woe to him who awakens it before he 
has purified his being of selfishness, for it wiU 
turn downwards and vitalize his darker passions 
and awaken strange frenzies and inextinguishable 
desires. The turning earthward of that heaven- 
bom power is the sin against the Holy Breath, for 
that fire which leaps upon us with the ecstasy of 
contemplation of Deity is the Holy Breath, the 
power which can carry us from earfli to heaven." 
A. ,E.'s theology is not always easy to make out. 
At times he seems to be a polytheist, but he would 
probably deny that he was more of a polytheist 
than a believer in the Trinity. like Mr. Wells, 
indeed, he appears to believe in the Trinity with 
a difference, and to associate the God man may 
know especially with this earth man does know. 
The object of his last philosophic book, he 
says, is to '^ bring back thought to that Being 
whom the ancient seers worshipped as Deity. I 
believe," he adds, '^that most of what was said of 
Ood was in reality said of that spirit whose body 
is earth." At the same time, it is not in the vis- 
ible earth that A. E. finds the vision of reality. 
He believes with Plato that ^^the earth is not aU 


that the geographers suppose it to be.'* We live 
in a world of shadows or refleotions. Another 
world permeates and surrounds our own, popu- 
lous with immortal presences. A. E. believes that 
in ecstasy, vision and dreams we actually see these 
presences. He believes that imagination is but 
a means of recovering our lost citizenship and 
consciousness of that starry world. ^^I am con- 
vinced that all poetry is, as Emerson said, first 
written in the heavens. ' ' Did not Blake als6 claim 
that the authors of his poems were in eternity and 
that his books were the delight of archangels! 

What, however, is the nature of this unseen 
world, which is as objectively real as the present 
world f A. E. apparently believes in the objective 
reality even of those moddng faces that sometimes 
appear to the fancy when one has closed one's 
eyes for sleep. He believes that in dreams and in 
imagination and in intuition the soul visits a 
many*coloured world to which the normal senses 
are blind, and the explanations of Freud seem to 
him as absurd as would be the report of a dull 
dissector on the beauty of Cleopatra. Not that 
A. E. has a single explanation for all psychic phe- 
nomena. Many of them he would attribute, for 
instance, to the soul's getting into touch with the 
memory of the earth. Like William James, he 
raises the question whether there may not be a 
great stored-up earth-memory ; and he thinks that 
he himself has wrung some of its secrets from it 


through intuition. One of the most startling chap- 
ters he has written is that called ^^The Language 
of the Oods/' in which he relates how by intense 
meditation he sought to discover the roots of 
speech as man first received them in the original 
names of things from the gods. He describes how 
he used to meditate over each letter of the alpha- 
bet in order to discover its secret. ^'No doubt the 
sanity of the boy who walked about the roads at 
night more than thirty years ago, murmuring let- 
ters to himself with the reverence of a mystic 
murmuring the ineffable name, might have been 
questioned by anyone who knew that he was try- 
ing to put himself in the place of his Aryan an- 
cestors.'' It may be doubted whether the prosaic 
will be reassured by the chapter in which they are 
told that H is ^'the sound correspondence of 
Heat," and that it has affinity with the colour 
orange, or that ^^Z represents the multiplication, 
division or begetting of organism from organ- 
ism." Even those whom the account of the lan- 
guage of the gods and the interpretation of the 
Celtic myths merely bewilder, however, will find 
such a wealth of poetic image and of noble fantasy 
in A. E.'s writings that rapture will alternate with 
puzzlement as they read. After all, did not a fine 
English poet behold the traffic of Jacob's ladder 
pitched between heaven and Charing Cross! 
A. E. is an Irishman who has seen the same over- 
whelming vision in the streets of Dublin. 



*'At least we are stylists, '* declared Kettle in a 
mood of youthful arrogance in The Nationalist — 
a, little weekly paper which he edited in Dublin at 
the outset of his career. This was not a mere 
boast — ^it was a confession of faith. He loved 
style as he loved philosophy. They were the two 
stars which for him lightened the gloom of a dis- 
astrous worl^. He cultivated style in his conver- 
sation ; he achieved it, as everybody who has read 
The Day's Burden knows, in his prose. He was 
one of those rare men whose conversation does 
not begin to pall at three o'clock in the morning. 
His true place was among the wits at an 
eighteenth-century table or, better still, in a Paris 
cafe among extravagant, proud and religious 
Bohemians, such as Villiers de PIsle Adam. In 
so far as he belonged to the modern world, it was 
to the world created by Mr. Chesterton and Mr. 
Belloc — ^the world of laughing, quaffing knights of 
the Holy Ghost. He could, on the same evening, 
live for the hour like an epicurean and meditate 
on eternity like a monk. He was not, however, 
entirely of the world of Mr. Chesterton and Mr, 



Belloc His laughter had not the note of boister- 
ous triumph which one associates with theirs. It 
was the laughter of a man who seemed to have 
wrapped himself in sorrows. He gave one the 
impression of a man of strong nature but of sor- 
rowful will. He never doubted that life was a | 
tragedy. He demanded of it, however, that it 
should be a well-written tragedy, with wit flashing 
out of the darkest thunder-clouds, and with a 
constant recurrence of good lines for such doomed 
figures as were to perish in the fifth act. ''Gbod \ 
lines and a timely exif — ^we find the phrase and 
the philosophy in one of his essays in The Day's 

In his posthumous book, The Ways of War, we 
see that Kettle's sense of tragedy was tempered 
not merely by his artist's love of style but by his 
political idealist's love of justice and by his CSiris- 
tian faith. . His melancholy was not the melan* 
choly of a paralysed spectator. He had the large 
hand of a fighter. He did not resign himself to 
the world's failure. He despaired of Europe in* 
finitely less than he despaired of himself. The 
Ways of War is the cry of indignation of a good 
European against a monstrous outrage. It is a 
protest that is in itself a fine action. It is ai 
protest, as everybody knows, that also shaped) 
itself in action, in the commoner sense of the word. 
For Kettle gave his life as weU as his rhetoric to 
the defence of Europe against ^^the barbarians" 


and he fell at Ginchy, a man of words splendidly 
transformed into a man of deeds. It is not that 
he ever enjoyed the soldier's life for its own sake. 
Who in these days does! For him the war had 
degraded Europe into **a sort of malign middle 
term between a lunatic asylum and a butcher's 
stall.'' He believed, however, that Germany had 
gone crusading on behalf of the Gospel of the 
Devil, and that it was the part (as he would have 
put it) of plain Christian men to unite and over- 
whelm this Mad Mullah of murder. He was one 
of those Irish Nationalists who held from the first 
that, even if England had played the part of 
Prussia in Ireland for seven centuries, Prussia 
was at this new turn of events the sinister apostle 
and swordsman of Imperialism, and that to fight 
against Prussia was to fight for the rights and the 
liberties of nations. By far the greater part of 
Ireland may be said to have taken that view at 
the beginning of the war. It required only the 
imaginative gesture, the just word, the handsome 
deed on the part of Mr. Asquith and English 
statesmen in general, to perpetuate and strengthen 
this attitude and to inaugurate the first year of 
friendship in the relations between England and 
Ireland. But English statesmen, though they 
loudly applauded Mr. Bedmond for stretching out 
the hand of friendship, did not stretch out a hand 
in response — they thought their cheers were 
enough, and nervelessly surrendered to the grip 


of Sir Edward Carson. They shilly-shallied even 
over the formality of patting the Home Bnle Bill 
on the Statute 3ook. As for putting it into opera- 
tion, they seem never to have been struck by the 
common-sense reflection that an England setting 
out to fight for the liberty of small nations ought 
first of all to strike off the manacles from a small 
nation she herself had persistently wronged. To 
refuse to do so was, as it turned out, not only to 
poison the moral atmosphere of England; it was 
to change enthusiasm into anger and cynicism in 
Ireland and to belittle the cause of the Allies in 
America and afterwards with the Russian / 

Kettle, who at the outbreak of the war was in 
Belgium buying arms for the Nationalists, and 
who remained there as war correspondent for The 
Daily News, wrote from Brussels an appeal to the 
English people to do the generous thing in Ireland 
at a crisis at which generosity had become the 
first duty of man. He wrote : 

^^Here at the opening of this vast and bloody 
epic, Great Britain is right with the conscience of 
Europe. It is assumed that she has reconciled 
Ireland. A reconciled Ireland is ready to march 
side by side with her to any desperate trial. And 
suddenly the lawyer, with the Dublin accent, who 
had been the chief architect of destruction in the 
whole Empire, and who was thought to have come 


to reason, proposes for Ireland what I can only 
call a Prussian program. England goes to 
fight for liberty in Europe and for Junkerdom in 
Ireland. It is incredible. Were it to come true 
it would become utterly impossible to act on Mr. 
Redmond's speech. Another dream would have 
gone down into the abyss. Ireland wounded anew 
would turn sullenly from you. Is that what a 
sound Tory ought to desire ? Will Tory England, 
enlightened at last as to the real attitude of Ire- 
land, allow such a fatal crime to be committed!" 

Unhappily, Sir Edward Carson had his way — 
loxig enough at least, in Kettle's phrase, to *^ be- 
devil the whole situation. ' ' And what Sir Edward 
left undone by way of bedevilment the War OflSce 
and Dublin Castle did with a will. In the result, 
Ireland, or a great part of it, as Kettle foretold, 
turned sullenly away. Any other people with 
ordinary human susceptibilities would have done 
the same thing in the same circumstances. Some 
people are always trying to explain Ireland as 
though she were a puzzle among the nations. 
There is nothing the matter with Ireland except 
human nature. If you prick her she will bleed. 
If Tom Kettle himself did not "turn away" it 
was largely because he was more imaginative, 
more travelled, more European in interests than 
the majority of his countrymen. He never lost 
sight of the fact that the civil war in Europe was 


a fight between right and wrong, even thongh it 
was not a fight between one side wholly white and 
another side wholly black. Being a sinner himself, 
he recognized that, at the best of times, one has to 
fight by the side of sinners against sin. England, 
Ireland, France, Belgimn— they were all, like (Ger- 
many, models of imperfection. Bnt of (Germany 
alone conld it be said that '^she stood for the gos- 
pel of force and the sacrament of cmelty." 
Pmssia, imlike her fellow-nations, had, as Kettle 
said, ^'adopted her vice as her highest virtue. 
Her philosophy did not correct her appetites, it 
canonized them. " ' ' What is the Devil 's Oospelf ' ' 
he asks again, and answers : 

'*I take it that the three main articles are vio- 
lence, intellect, and a certain malign splendour of 
domination. If that is the formula of the Courts 
of Hell, it is certainly the formula of Prussian- 

Nietzsche's writings he sums up as '^a long- 
drawn-out Metaphysics of Bullying. ' ' On another 
page he speaks of him as ''that sinister Quixote 
who made cruelty his sacrament, and who was 
yet so humanly dear in some of his moods.'' He 
does full justice to the splendour as well as the 
darker aspects of Nietzsche. It is of him that he 


**Not since Jiucifer was so much li^ht used to 
dark ends. Not since Diana was great in Ephesus 
were such beautiful images cast or carven in the 
service of a false worship. He made German 
dance rs before him only Heine had done. 

** *I have an idea,' he wrote, 'that with Zara- 
thustra I have brought the German language to 
its point of perfection.' 

"The boast is probably true. The devil was 
always a good stylist, and it is not inappropriate 
that when his gospel is at its worst, his prose 
43hould be at its best.'' 

Kettle could not endure ^etzscheanism in the 
ugliness of action in spite of the beauty of its 
prose. What he saw in Belgium led him on his 
way home through England to offer his services 
to the War Office in any capacity in which it could 
use him. He believed in punislunent almost flam- 
boyantly. My own blood is too pale to respond 
to everything he wrote in those days. But one 
sympathized with his indignant scorn of that form 
of weU-meaning dishonesty which had rather be- 
lieve the tortured Belgians liars than the tortur- 
ing Germans murderers. To those who would not 
accept the evidence of German atrocities in Bel- 
gium he ironically replied : 

**If you come, during time of war, upon a civi- 
lian, hanged by the neck, with his hands tied 


behind his back, and a fire burning under him, the 
theory of suicide or accident does not seem to 
embrace the full scope of the fact" 

The Ways of War is not a gentle book. It is 
passionate and denunciatory in its oratory. Kettle 
was a pacifist in that he hated war. But he was 
aggressive against aggression. ''There are no 
'inevitable wars/ " he retorted to militarists and 
determinists alike. "Or, rather, the only war in- 
evitable is a war against aggression, and aggres- 
sion itself is never inevitable." Hence he rained 
heavy bloWs both upon the peace-at-any-price 
party and upon those who loved war as anything 
except the most awful means of justice. Iffis last 
essay, "Trade or Honour!" is noble thunder 
against those who degraded a war for righteous- 
ness into a war for markets. Mrs. Kettle quotes 
some of his letters from the trenches in which 
his passionate hatred of war is expressed with 
the intensity of a ^religious faith. You cannot 
hate Prussianism, he said, unless you hate 
war. He did not lose his wit and gaiety, how- 
ever, even in the midst of blood and wounds 
and rats and mud and the obscene things of 
the trenches, as we see in the sketch called 
'* Rhapsody on Eats." This is a fantasy on the 
trenches — ^Batavia, as he called them, in respect 
of their rat inhabitants. "Eatavia," he 
wrote — — 



''Batavia, as one may designate it, resembles 
China in that there has never been a census of its 
population ; but that it approximates to the mathe- 
matically infinite/' 

And from the rats in the trenches he proceeds to 
a fine satiric fable on the rat-Kaiser : 

^^ Kaiser Wilhelm, whose resemblance to a rat 
has been too little noticed— you have but to take 
the wax of his moustache and allow it to droop — 
was seated in his ugly palace at Potsdam, consid- 
ering his ultimatum to Serbia, when there sud- 
denly appeared before him, down the chimney or 
out of some diplomatic orifice in the panelling, a 
Bat, the master and pattern of all rats. 'Majesty!' 
said he, *I am come to offer you my aid in this war 
which you are planning. As you are the Emperor 
of all the Germans, so am I the Emperor of all 
the Bats. Our interests coincide.' 

They conferred together very shrewdly and 
struck an alliance. 'Good!' said his Majesty, 
slapping his thigh. *It is decided. We are with- 
one-another-firmly-united. The war will begin 

So the great quintessential Super-Bat, the Bat- 
tish Ding an sich, left to mobilize his forces, and 
the Kaiser drew over a sheet of paper and wrote 
the magical black word that unlocks Hell. And 
the great Bat called in his Austria, which is the 



louse, and his Turkey, which is the sand-flea, and 
his Bulgaria, whidi is that porter of poison the 
fly. So the battle was joined between the dean 
and the obscene. 

It must be said for the Kaiser that with this one 
aUy he kept faith. Batavia has increased enor* 
moosly in population and prosperity. It has suf- 
fered from no menace of famine, for Wilhelm, the 
faith-keeper, has even sacrificed his own subjects 
generously in order to avert that calamity. 

But the end is not yet. The Emperor of the 
Bats will come once again to Potsdam. 

'Majestyl' he will say. ^I am a student of 
Treitschke, who teaches that an alliance is to be 
kept by the stronger of two associates only as long 
as his profit lies that way.' And as Majesty, 
shrivelled, decaying with llie pallor of death on 
him, trembles in his chair, the great Bat will add: 
'I propose to annex you.' " 

Well, the Elaiser is gone now, and other Kaisers 
of other races have taken his place. The inrar for 
the freedom of the world turned out not to be a 
war for the freedom of Ireland after all. Kettle 
and many another Irish patriot are quiet in their 
graves, and Mr. Lloyd George remains alive and 
vocal to commit the supreme infamy of denying 
that Ireland is a nation. 

Kettle was one of those men of whom it may be 
said that they are more wonderful than anything 


they write. But everything he wrote bears clearly 
enough the signature of a fine personality, a 
valiant soldier, a writer with just that swagger 
of phrase that makes old truths young again and 
worn topics bright as a new penny. His gospel 
lives after him. One may disagree with it in cer- 
tain details and in certain of the ways in which 
Kettle himself applied it. But his ideal of an 
Ireland inhabited not only by good Irishmen but 
by good Europeans gives us, I believe, a platform 
upon which the Sinn Feiner and the Orangeman 
can unite, and Ireland take her place among 
the free peoples of the world with universal 



Doha Sigbbsok was fortunate in the praise of 
poets. Meredith spoke of *Hhe eternal poet in 
that wise creature*' ; Swinburne wrote of her with 
admiration; Francis Thompson applauded her 
freshness and power. And I have heard the 
greatest of living poets speaking with enthusiasm 
of the beauty of her verse. Like many of the 
women who have written good poetry, she found 
in poetry not so much a profession as a delight. 
She achieved art through artlessness. She was a 
poet bom, not made. ^^She was so full of artistic 
impulse and achievement of many kinds," Katha- 
rine Tynan writes in the memoir which prefaces 
The Sad Tears — *^ . . . and she arrived at so 
much art without any apprenticeship, that the 
word 'genius' seems not inapplicable to her. 
. . . The gifts came to her out of the air, so to 
speak ; real gifts and nothing acquired. ' ' She was 
in one sense an artist during all her waking hours. 
She was restlessly occupied in the task of making 
beautiful things, whether in her studio, in her gar- 
den or at her desk. But there is a quality of 
freshness in her poems that, as one reads them^ 


makes one feel that she wrote them as naturally 
as she talked, without pause, blot or afterthought. 
Nature, indeed, had marked her out for a poet. 
Her face, Katharine Tynan writes, describing her 
first meeting with her, **had some curious sugges- 
tion of the Greek Hermes. • . • She was singu- 
larly beautiful, with some strange hint of storm 
in her young beauty. . . . She was full of joie 
de vivre, despite the hint of tragedy in he^ beauty. 
She did madcap things.*' There, in four sen- 
tences, you have the portrait of an indubitable 
poet, impulsive, romantic, sensitive, dark and 

The Sad Tears, however, the book of verse 
which contains this portrait and which may be 
regarded as the author's poetical bequest to her 
country, is something more than a revelation of a 
poet's temperament. It is a revelation of a poet's 
heart in the presence of suffering and death. Mrs, 
Shorter, we are told by Katharine Tynan, was 
from her girlhood a friend of lost dogs. When 
the two young poets used to wander in the streets 
of Dublin together, they were constantly picking 
up ** waifs and strays of forlorn doghood," so that 
the street-boys used to shout jeeringly after them: 
"Go on! wid yer grand hats, and ye to be starvin' 
yer dog!" When the European War broke out 
a heart that had been touched with pity for lost 
dogs was now all but overwhelmed with pity for 
a lost humanity; and in "Progress," "The Boad 


of the BefogeeB'' and ''An Old Proverb" we find 
a Utter anguidi of pity pouring itself out— a bit- 
ter anger of pity, one mig^t almost say, at sight 
of the implacable earth and her victims: 

"Lol I Am athint,** tiffined tha faroim carUi, 

''Onnt BM red wine to ■pend.'* 
''Aa H «ma in tlie begianias." eaid tiia gnat hilli, 

«Aad sliaU be to the end." 

A new mood came to Mrs. Shorter after the 
Dublin rebellion of Easter wedc, 1916. The shoot- 
ing and hanging of the Sinn Fein leaders tortured 
her as the agony of Belgium had tortured other 
sensitive spirits earlier in the war. It would 
hardly be an exaggeration to say that she received 
her death sentence when Pearse and Coimolly 
were given theirs. Many people wUl question the 
reasonableness of her sufferings as we find them 
passionately articulate in The Sad Years. The 
Irish are only human beings, however : they object 
to seeing their fellow-countrymen put to death by 
strangers. Mrs. Shorter, in her passion of anger 
and sorrow, was not a solitary and abnormal 
figure. She became the prophet, as it were, of the 
passion of a people. Those who know anything 
about human nature in politics foresaw the results 
that would follow from the execution of the in- 
surgent leaders. Theyvwamed the statesmen and 
the soldiers that to shoot the leaders would, in- 
stead of emphasizing and attesting their failure, 


exalt them into national figures* Ireland has 
often been accused of weeping too persistently 
over her dead. How infatuated were those states- 
men who gave her new dead to weep over ! Mrs. 
Shorter more than anyone else has sung the na- 
tional lament over the dead insurgents. No poem 
has been written which expresses the passion of 
sorrow and wild hope over the graves of the dead 
with the same power and beauty as *'The Dead 
Soldier." Passion such as this is beyond argu- 
ment. In politics^ we may either allow ourselves 
to be swept along by it or we may contend vio- 
lently against it. In literature, we have simply 
to accept it as a part oi nature. Even those who 
have no sympathy with the author's political 
point of view will find it difficult to remain unaf- 
fected while reading this poem : 

Look! they oome, the triuiiq>hant armyl 
Over yon hill see their weapons peeping. 

Btill I spoke not, but my wheel sent turning; 
I dosed my eyes, for my heart was weepings 

My heart was weeping for a dead soldier. 

"Who is he who looks towards met** 

" Tis no man, but a gay flag flying." 
Bed was his mouth and his white brow thoughtfuly 

Blue his eyes — how my soul is crying. 
My soul is crying for a dead soldier. 

** Kneel ye down, lest your eyes should dare them. 

Kneel ye down and your beads be saying." 
^ Lord, on their heads Thy wrath deliver." 

This is the prayer that my lips are prayingi 
My heart is praying for a dead soldier. 


BcttdiMr tiM path of tiM men Tietorloiii» 
Tw hb ia dead and Mt blade lies bfokML 

His mafeh la far wliere no aid can f oUmr, 
And for hia paople he left no token; 

He left no token, the dead aoldier. 

The way of the eword a'man can follow. 
See the young child with hia gold hair gleaming. 

When falla the oak ninat the acorn periahf 
He lifte the Uade and hia eyee are dreaming; 

He dreama the dream of the dead eoldier. 

Every broken and defeated people in Enrope has 
poetrj ezpreBsing just such passions. 

It wonld be misleading to suggest, however, that 
The Sad Tears is, in the conventional sense of the 
word, a volume of patriotic poetry. Patriotic 
I>oetr7, as a rule, is rhetorical propaganda rather 
than poetry. It expresses the passions of the mob 
or a public meeting rather than of the individual 
soul. Mrs. Shorter 's poems are the confessions of 
her own soul. The sadness is a personal sadness. 
Their joyousness is a personal joyousness. For 
there is a real joyousness behind all the sorrow 
in the poems. No one could have loved more ar- 
dently, more happily this world of birds and 
flowers ; 

The young bird'a broken tune. 
The larkspur gold and blue. 

At the same time, Mrs. Shorter sees all these 
things with the intensity of one who is bidding 
them f arewelL She sees in the patchwork quilt 



of the flowers a coverlet for her own narrow bed, 
and in the tree uprooted the image of her release. 
The birds, too, taking flight to the south in winter, 
she loves and envies as fellow-exiles who have tiie 
liberty to return home when they will. She looks 
at all nature wistfully, mournfully, half as a lover, 
half as a stranger. In the midst of lovely things 
there is still cause for repining: 

I shall rest no more on the fragrant moeaes 
Under great trees where the green bough tosses 
Scents of the lime; and the wild rose, flinging 
Sweets to the breeze with their censer swinging. 
I shall count no more, as I linger lazy 
Deep in the mead, from the pink-tipped daisy, 
"Who loves me well, and who leaves me lonely? 
Who loves me not, and who loves me only? ** 

For all their melancholy, however, these lines are 
an expression of delight in the visible world. And 
one finds evidence of this delight on every page of 
The Sad Years. No one but a lover of wild things 
could have written about the swallows that build 
on the gable-ends of the cottage as Dora Sigerson 
has done : 

On its wall the swallows' house, who can find its secret doorf 
Such a cunning nursery, made with Eastern art. 

I can hear the baby ones, in their first, swift, troubled flighty 
Giving little frightened cries as they swoop and dart. 

And I hear the swallow-folk telling tales of foreign dimes, 

In a low sweet lullaby long before the day. 
Little brotiiers of the wind, children of the summer time^ 

Lovers of the summer sky, swift you fly away I 


In one of her most beantifnl i>oem8, indeed, it is 
to nature that she turns as the great consoler. 
''The Comforters" is, in my opinion, one of those 
poems which will pass from anthology to anthol- 
ogy in future years. Such a poem as ''The Com- 
forters" will, better than any critical comment, 
announce the noble quality of Mrs. Sorter's 

When I erept orer the hfll, farokea with tism. 
When I eiooched dofwn on. the graM» dumb in dequdr, 

Z heftid the eoft croon of the wind bend to my euv^ 
I felt the light kiss of the wind touching my hnir. 

When I etood lone on the height m j sorrow did ^enk. 
At I w«nt down the hill, I cried and I cried. 

The soft little hende of the rain stroking my chedc. 
The kind little feet of the rain ran by my side. 

When I went to thy grave, broken with tears. 
When I crouched down in the grass, dumb in despair, 

I heard the sweet croon of the wind soft in my ears, 
I felt the kind lips of the wind touching my hair. 

When I stood lone by thy cross, sorrow did speak. 

When I went down the long hill, I cried and I cried. 
The soft little hands of the rain stroked my pale cheek. 

The kind little feet of the rain ran by my side. 

Katharine Tynan, in writing of Mrs. Shorter's 
poetry, has made use of the phrase, "beautiful 
poetry, essential poetry, always with a passionate 
emotion to give it wings/' That is admirably 
said. There is nothing of objective Pamassianism 
in Mrs. Shorter 's work. She belongs to the sing- 
ers rather than the phrase-makers among the 


poets. Her lyrics are cries of the heart, tender, 
passionate, romantic. In the result, hers is poetry 
of a sort to which neithei^ artists nor simple people 
can remain indifferent. Much of the finest of 
her work is in The Sad Tears. Nothing that 
she wrote, I fancy, is more certain to survive than 
''The Comforters,*' **The Dead Soldier'' or **The 
Black Horseman." 



At the beginning of the war all the books were 
full of talk about the small nations. And hj a 
small nation most people meant not a nation of 
diminished area so mndi as a nation of diminished 
liberties. Their list of the little nations included 
not only Belgium, which is hardly bigger than 
Ulster, but Poland, which is one of the largest 
countries in Europe. They idealized subject peo- 
ples in the mass. They felt that they were en- 
gaged in a crusade, and they had for every op- 
pressed nation something of the same feeling that 
the old Crusaders had for the Holy Sepulchre. 
The small nations shone in the reflected glory of 
the ideal of the hour. People did not exactly 
ignore the greater nations such as England and 
France. But they did not glow about them in the 
same way as they glowed about Belgium and 
Serbia. One did not feel that the great nations 
stood in the same degree in need of one's cham- 
pionship. They were strong enough to look after 
themselves — ^strong enough even to stand criti- 
cism. After Mr, Bottomley'g first strangled 
scream of ^^To Hell with Serbia I" no Englishman 



i^ould have dreamed of uttering a harsh word in 
public about Serbia, any more than a knight would 
have dreamed of belittling a lady whom he was 
rescuing from the clutches of an ogre. To a 
knight every lady who had to be rescued was a 
fair lady. Later on, if he married het and settled 
down, he might discover that she was a shrew, 
and, following the fashion of the time, might even 
claim the right to beat her. But in. the jubilee of 
his chivalry there was no room for the harsh prose 
of realism. The English and French peoples hur- 
ried to the rescue of Belgium in just such a temper 
of romantic chivalry. Never in history had the 
small nations been set on such a pedestal. They 
were beautiful and spotless as the virtuous figures 
in an allegory. They were almost too good to be 
true except on Sunday. Germany through Bern* 
hardi had said that weak nations have no right to 
exist, and that to become the prey of the stronger 
is their natural destiny. To many English and 
French people this seemed to be the accursed lie 
that caused the war. They immediately pro- 
claimed the protection of the rights of small na- 
tions to be the chief constructive ideal for whidi 
they were fighting. Even the destruction of Prus- 
sian militarism was but a means to this great end. 
Sir Edward Carson himself became a furious Na- 
tionalist—for Serbia. Mr. Herbert Fisher, not 
foreseeing that he would one day vote for the con- 
scription of the manhood of a small nation with- 


ont its consent, wrote an adnurable pamphlet 
showing bow glorious a contribntlon the small 
oountries had made to the arts and dWlizatioii of 
Earope. Tlte Twnes created a genuine sense of 
horror in the breasts of many people when it pro- 
tested that England had excellent motives of self- 
interest for going into the war, and would have 
bad to go in even if Belginm had not been in- 
vaded. The average Englishman felt that, so far 
as he individually was concerned, this was doubt- 
ful. He was ronsed to a passion of indignation 
against Germany, not l^ the potential wrongs of 
England but by the actual wrongs of Belgitun. 
Then, as so often happens, the rescuer fell in love 
with the rescued. The chief event of the first year 
of the war, indeed, may be said to have been that 
Europe fell head over ears in love with the little 
nations, for whidi a few months before she had 
hardly cared a penny. 

This mood of romance was bound to lead to dis- 
illusion. Mr. Shaw had shocked the rtunantie by 
expressing his dislike of small nations as nui- 
sances on the ground that they are a standing 
temptation to the great Empires to come and steal 
them. Other people soon began to suspect the 
small nations of being nuisances, though for quite 
different reasons. First they discovered that Bel- 
gium was a nation not of angels but of human be- 
ings. That discovery came as a great blow. Sen- 
timental people had not been prepared for the 


fact that the population of Belgium, like that of 
every other country in Europe, contained thieves, 
prostitutes, thimhleriggers and dyspeptics, as 
well as pious, poetic and good-natured men and 
women. Then there came queer tidings from 
Montenegro. Then Greece seemed to behave 
rather queerly. Then there was the Sinn Fein 
insurrection in Dublin. Then the Georgians were 
known to be not only fighting nobly for the Allies 
in the army of Russia but to possess a pro-German 
party, like the Irish, and even to have a few of 
their extremists pleading their cause in Berlin. 
Then the Ukraine, having received a loan from 
France to defeat the Bussian Revolution, threw 
itself into the still more anti-revolutionary arms 
of (Germany. Then the Poles, like the Georgians, 
were known to have a party that looked to Ger- 
many for liberty as well as a party that looked to 
Ihe Allies. Then Finland, fearing red ruin, per- 
mitted itself to become practically the ally of Ger- 
many. It is hardly to be wondered at that many 
a sentimentalist who had undergone a sudden con- 
version to the cause of small nations in the early 
days of the war began to wonder whether he had 
not, in the phrase of Lord Salisbury, backed the 
wrong horse. During the last few months, indeed, 
I have seen articles in various papers urging that 
the small nations have been one of the disappoint- 
ments of the war. They have undoubtedly been a 
disappointment to the sentimentalist who nevei; 


took fhe trouble to understand their point of 
and judged them only by the test whether they 
fen in with his. The sentimentalist is an egoist in 
disguise. He enjoys a sort of vanity of virtue. 
He is a despot of sounding words, and easily i>er- 
suades himself that those who interfere with his 
plans are the enemies of God. His life is bound 
to be a continual disappointment because he does 
not accept the conditions of human nature or 
realize that all human beings and all nations are 
fallible, and that their policies and opinions fluc- 
tuate from day to day. He demands the flattery 
of assent, not an exchange of opinions among 
equals. He will himself be the first to turn and 
rend one of his beneficiaries who does not seem 
to be sufficiently gratefuL Though he may not 
understand human nature, he has his share of it. 
Luckily, there is plenty of common*sense and 
idealism as well as sentimentality in the modem 
democracy. And it is on common-sense and 
idealism, not on sentimentality, that the future of 
the small nations depends. There is no need to 
pretend to ourselves that the small nations are 
nobler than the great nations. They are not. 
Russia and France and England have no need to 
feel gross and vulgar and self-seeking in compari- 
son with Poland and Belgium and Ireland. They 
have been more successful, but not necessarily 
more prone to wickedness. If we rejoice to see 
Bohemia free from Austria, it is not because she 


is better than Austria, but because she is different 
from Austria* The small nations, like the great 
nations, have each of them a sufl&cient retinue of 
vices to justify a long and damning indictment 
But each of them has also, assuredly, a sufficient 
core of virtue to justify the daring experiment of 
liberty. Some of them we may like ; some of them 
we may dislike. Some may be given, to vices to 
which we ourselves feel no inclination, and which 
therefore M us with peculiar loathing. The Lon- 
don clubman, for instance, never having been 
tempted to commit an agrarian crime, is firmly 
persuaded that it is something far blacker than 
adultery or profiteering. He has lived in circum- 
stances in which it would have been unsafe to be 
a pro-German : he never asks himself whether, if 
he had been a Finn, he might not have found pro- 
Oermanism a more tempting vice. la any case, if 
we are concerned for the liberty of the world, we 
shall not ask a small nation to produce its good- 
conduct card or its political confession of faith 
before setting it free. To liberate a small nation 
simply because one approves of it is mere whimsi- 
cality. Nations, like human beings, must be made 
free, not in any arbitrariness of the affections but 
because the conscience of the modem world is 
revolted by the denial of freedom. Even though 
every small nation in Europe had taken the part 
of Germany in the present war — and, as a matter 
of fact, the great mass of the small nations from 


fhe Shannon to the Volga threw their weigbt into 
the scale on the side of the Allies— it would still 
be entitled to its freedom, just as an indivichial 
voter is entitled to freedom, whether he voted 
Conservative, Liberal or Labour at the last elec- 
tion. President l^son has said that it is not 
enongh to be jnst to the nations to which we wish 
to be jnst. We must be just even to the nations 
that irritate ns and that we actively dislike. 

All that I have written is sufficiently obvious in 
logic. It is not, unfortunately, regarded as obvious 
in practical politics. In practical politics we are 
often guided by prejudice rather than reason, and 
an impatient phrase, such as ^'Beastly little na- 
tion 1'' may carry more weight than a library of 
political philosophy. Hence it is vitally impor- 
tant that we should keep clear before us the true 
reasons for securing to every small nation the 
right to choose its own way of life. The fact that 
the Czechs — or some of them— have behaved well 
has no more to do with the case for the small na- 
tions than the fact that the Finns— or some of 
them— have behaved badly. The case for the 
small nations is merely, as Emile Boutroux, the 
philosopher, pointed out at the begiiming of the 
war, a logical development of the liberating prin- 
ciples of the French Revolution. Writing on the 
French theory of nationality, Boutroux then said : 
^^ Basing its deductions on the Hellenic and Chris- 
tian conception of human nature, the Declaration 


of 1789 had proclaimed^ as also had America, that 
men are bom free, and equal in their rights, and 
that they continue so. The French theory of na- 
tionality consists in extending to nations that 
which, in this maxim, is affirmed of individuals." 
Nations, in other words, have the same claim to 
freedom and equality as men have. This concep- 
tion of nations as persons is the only possible 
alternative to -the theory of the Prussians, who 
** substitute hierarchy in the place of equality be- 
tween nations, and posit the existence of a head 
nation whose mission it is to dominate the rest 
and assign to them their place and function in the 
universe.*' The Prussian theory is one that for 
the moment stinks in the nostrils of the world. 
But it is a theory that has at one time or another 
attracted most of the great nations and many 
^eat and little men. Mr. Kipling was a prophet 
of ^^head-nationism," as surely as Bemhardi. 
The Peace will fail to bring peace to the world 
unless it results in the defeat not only of Prussia 
but this ever so enticing Prussian ideal. The 
Peace should, as President Wilson and Mr. As- 
quith have again and again said, be founded on 
the equal right of every nation, great and small, 
to choose its own way of life and to contribute 
the gift of its own peculiar genius unhampered to 
the common store of the world's civilization. If 
we do not get this peace, then we shall not get 
peace at all, but the seedbed of future war. The 


seed of a great plague may be sown in a Uny 
Bwampi and the seed of a great war may be sown 
in a tiny nation. Henoe it behooves ns at least to 
be afraid to be nn jnst That is the eommon-sense 
position with regard to the small nations, and 
laddly it points in Uie same direction as idealism. 



Whbk Mr. Will Thome returned from a visit to 
Bnssia during the Kerensky revolution, he said 
that the British delegates were being constantly 
met with the question: ^^What about Ireland?*' 
Englishmen who visited Scandinavia during the 
war came back with the same story. And at the 
present moment apparently the inevitable ques- 
tion greets the Englishman almost everywhere he 
goes in America. English newspaper correspond- 
ents send home beseeching messages, asking their 
government to do something to '^counteract the 
anti-British propaganda and state the British 
case.'' They seem all to be agreed on one point, 
that there exists a powerful British case for refus- 
ing Irishmen the right to choose their own rulers 
— ^a case that, if properly stated, would convince 
any fair-minded man. Americans, they tell us 
pathetically, have heard only one side of the ques- 
tion. This, in point of fact, is not true. Money 
has been 8i)ent on anti-Irish propaganda as well 
as on pro-Irish propaganda in America — ^prob- 
ably, a great deal more money. A futile censor- 
ship has even done what it could to prevent the 



facts about Ireland from reaching America. This, 
from the official point of view, JLs intelligible 
enough. There is no possible answer to the facts. 
The only hope is to silence them. There is, as 
regards Ireland, simply no '^British case'' which 
an honest man can state. Even an almost fanat- 
ical pro-Englishman like myself has been unable 
to discover one. There are, in one sense, two sides 
to every question. Even in a criitiinal case there 
is the side of the prosecution and the side of the 
defence. This does not mean, however, that both 
sides equally have a case that would impress 
honest men. The case of the man accused of 
housebreaking is hopeless unless he can prove 
either that housebreaking is a good thing or that 
he himself is not guilty of it. England in Ireland 
is admittedly in the position of a housebreaker. 
There is no defence except that the thing has be- 
come a habit. Strategical reasons may have been 
some excuse in the old days before men fought to 
set the world free from Prussianism. Germany's 
possession of Alsace-Lorraine and her designs on 
the coast of Flanders were, it will be remembered, 
both justified by strategic reasons. The moral 
sense of the world will no longer endure strategic 
reasons as an excuse for Imperial crimes. Men 
have come to see that they have to choose between 
making the world safe for strategy and making 
the world safe for democracy. 
Anti-Irish propagandists, realizing this advance 


in the moral sense of manMnd, for the most part 
fall back on the pretence that English statesmen 
are only too anxions to give Ireland what she 
wants, bnt that Irishmen cannot agree among 
themselves and that Ulster blocks the way. As a 
matter of fact, no English statesman has ever 
offered Ireland anything approaching self- 
determination. Mr. Lloyd George has declared 
that England will never consent to the establish- 
ment of an Irish Eepublic, however much Irish- 
men desire it, and he warned the Convention which 
sat nnder the presidency of Sir Horace Plunkett 
that it must not even ask for Dominion Home 
Bule. It was not in the name of Ulster but in the 
name of England that he «denied the right of Ire- 
land to be an independent republic. It is ridicu- 
lous then to pretend that Irishmen have only to 
agree among themselves in order to get whatever 
they want. Thousands of individual Englishmen 
are, I know, willing and even anxious to grant 
Ireland the same rights of self-determination as 
England itself possesses. But no English states- 
man has shown himself to be so as yet. Irish 
internal differences and the Ulster difficulty, on 
the contrary, so far from being causes of regret to 
the Cabinet Minister, are exceedingly welcome pre- 
texts which enable him to feel moral and just in 
continuing to govern Ireland against its will. Mr. 
Lloyd George was recently asked whether he 
would not submit the question of the future gov- 


eminent of Ireland to an Irish referendum. He 
dedared that this was impossible, owing to the 
difficulty of deciding npon the area for the refer- 
endum. Strange to say, he and his Cabinet col- 
leagues found no difficulty three years earlier in 
deciding upon the area to be represented at the 
bogus convention. The area was all IrelandL 
Statesmen merely invent difficulties of this kind as 
a means of denying to Irishmen the rights con- 
ceded to every other nation of white men. But, 
even if one were to admit — ^which one cannot hon- 
estly do— that the Irish question is beyond the 
capacity of straightforward English statesman- 
ship to solve, the damning fact remains that Eng- 
lish statesmen have steadily refused to allow any- 
one else to solve it for them. Not only have they 
refused to allow Irishmen themselves to solve it, 
but they have refused to allow the question to go 
before either the Peace Conference or a Confer- 
ence of the Premiers and statesmen of the British 
Empire. As regards its submission to the Peace 
Conference, they were deaf alike to the demands 
of the Sinn Feiners and to the appeal of the Irish 
soldiers who fought in the British Army in the 
war against Germany. The enemies of Ireland 
like to pretend that the only Irishmen who desire 
a national status for their country among the free 
peoples of the world are moved by anti-British 
animus. This is the falsest of calumnies. That 
the Irish demand for self-determination is no 


mere anti-English clamour is shown by such a 
document as the official leaflet of the Irish Nation- 
alist Veterans' Association, calling on Irish sol- 
diers to support Ireland's appeal to the Peace 
Conference. It appears on the next page. 

The widow of Captain Redmond, the widow of 
Lieut. T. M. Kettle, Captain W. A. Bedmond, 
D.S.O., and Captain Stephen Gwynn were among 
the signatories to this significant appeal. Their 
conception of Irish freedom, no doubt, differs sub- 
stantially from that of the Sinn Feiners. But, 
like the Sinn Feiners, they hold that the Irish ques- 
tion is not a domestic British question but is first 
an Irish question and then a world question, and 
they appeal from England to the world for their 
country's freedom. They at least have proved by 
their sacrifices that hatred of England plays no 
part in their politics. Nor, indeed, is it hatred of 
England that makes other Irishmen republicans. 
'^Ireland a republic" is a noble, not a base ideal. 
It is founded upon the passion for liberty— -that 
passion which led a young French soldier on the 
eve of his death to write: '^The true death 
would be to live in a conquered country." Irish- 
men at the present moment are in revolt against 
the shame of living in a conquered country. Be- 
publicanism is simply a determination to undo the 
conquest of Ireland. What Englishman who loves 
liberty can fail to wish well to the cause f 

As for the Ulster difficulty, the truth is nev%r 
told about it in the speeches of Cabinet ministers. 

Irish Soldiers I Iriafa Sailors I Irish Airmen ! 



■hovU bs wiMw d to 



to dfidde imiMtrtially upon the uiflient iirae brtwwn 



Let every patriotic Irisbman who has served 
against the Germans sign the PETITION to far- 
ther the foregoing object. CLOSE UPON 250 
Comrades who have fallen in the War can be 
signed for by their next-of-kin or some near 



Note. — ^The Petition may be seen and s^ed at the Offices of the 


Park Chambera, 10 Nassau St (first floor), DvUin. 

Copies of the Petition will alio be eircolated for signature. 


l^ey defend the continued coercion of Ireland on 
th^ ground that it would be wicked to coerce 
Ulster. Honest men would feel that it must at 
least be wickeder to coerce a nation than to coerce 
half a province of a nation. The truth is, how- 
ever, Cabinet ministers have no moral objection 
whatever to coercing Ireland. If they have any 
objection to coercing Ulster, it is not on moral 
grounds but because Ulster provides them with a 
plausible palliation for their guilt in denying free- 
dom to a race of white men. One cannot fairly be 
called unfair in making this grave charge. Those 
who know history know that the Ulster question 
is an invention of British statesmen. It did not 
exist in the eighteenth century when Ireland had 
a national Parliament. Ulster had then, as now, 
certain sectarian passions but she had no anti- 
national passions. She was as Nationalist as the 
American colonies. If she has been anti-national 
in recent years she has been so in dose collusion 
with British statesmen. There has been no 
" Ulster*' movement in our time that was not 
simply an affair of collusion with British states- 
men. A writer in The New Statesmcm has sug- 
gested that, even in his latest post-war threat to 
levy war on the British Parliament, Sir Edward 
Carson was given his cue from inside the Cabinet. 
Sir Edward Carson has certainly never taken a 
step in the wildest days of his career without the 
knowledge that he was helping either British 


ministen or British ex-ministers to maintain fheir 
traditional policy. It is Indicrons for them to raise 
their hands helplessly at the obstacle of Carson- 
ism. The obstacle of Carsonism was not only 
raptoroosly engineered bnt rapturously financed 
from London. Political Ulster was made in Loa- 
don, and it is gross hypocrisy to pret^id that it is 
mainly an Irish problem. It is mainly an English 
I problem, and English statesmen could solve it in 
.' five years by the simple magic of the will to set 
J Ireland free. 

But, it may be asked, ''What about the prin- 
ciple of self-determination in Ulster t" Well, 
personally, I am in favour of the fullest self- 
determination for Ulster in so far as it does not 
conflict with self-determination for Ireland. I 
believe that the future happiness of the world 
depends largely on the concession of self-determi- 
nation to minorities. In the seventeenth century, 
people used to think it impossible to grant modi- 
fied self-determination to religious minorities. 
They attempted to compel men to go to national 
churches in which they did not believe. To do 
otherwise, they thought, would be to destroy na- 
tional unity. They discovered later that it was 
actually a help to national unity to admit the right 
of self-determination in reUgious matters to 
Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists and Plymouth 
Brethren. In modem times, we have gone further. 
We have in matters of local government given a 


oertain amount of self-determination to counties, 
raral districts and towns. The modem theory of 
edncation favours even a sort of self-determina- 
tion for school children. We are losing the in- 
tolerable mechanical theory of sameness, and we 
no longer blind ourselves to the possibility of hav- 
ing communities within communities, States 
within States. We realize that that State is the 
freest which contains the greatest number of free 
societies and free individuals. Even the Im- 
perialists have accepted in some degree this view 
of freedom. "Why, then,*' someone may say, 
**not *go the whole hog' in the matter of self- 
determination and admit the right of a minority 
to secede from a nation altogether?" I confess 
I am on the side of those who ask this question. 
I hold that any homogeneous minority, desiring 
^ to secede, should be permitted to take its case be- 
fore the League of Nations and, if it can substan- 
tiate it, should be allowed to "contract out'' of 
the nation of which it is an unwilling part. The 
difficulty about Ulster is that it is not homoge- 
neous. The Nationalist minority in Ulster is 
greater proportionately than the Ulster minority 
in Ireland. How many Englishmen realize that, 
if we leave out the city of Belfast, there is actually 
a Nationalist majority in Ulster f 50.016 per cent. 
of the population outside Belfast are Catholic, 
while 49.084 per cent, are Protestant. These fig- 
ures, however, are not quite fair to the Nation- 


alists, for while praotieaUy all the Catholics are 
Nationalists, a great number of the ProtestaBts 
are not Unionists. Even if we take the four pre- 
dominantly Unionist connties of Ulster— Cabinet 
ministers osnaUy pretend that there are six— we 
shall find that at least .30 per cent of the popula- 
tion is Nationalist. The entire Ulster Unionist 
population, on the other hand^ is only about 20 
per cent* of the population of Ireland. If we be- 
lieve in self-determination, is it not juggling with 
the facts to pretend that the 20 per cent, minority 
of Carsonites has greater rights than the vast 
majority of Irishmen or than the Nationalist ma- 
jority in Ulster outside Belfast or than the 30 
per cent. Nationalist minority in Carsonite 
Ulster f If the Oermans had held Belgium, they 
would have made use of the minority of pro- 
Oerman Flemings exactly as Cabinet ministers 
make use of Ulster. During their occupation, in- 
deed, they were already creating an ^^ Ulster ques- 
tion'' in Belgium. It is with makeshifts of this 
kind that Imperial statesmen fool the democra- 

What British statesmen have deliberately made 
of Ulster may be gathered, by contrast^ by any- 
one who turns back to the records of the pro-Irish 
Ulster that existed when Ireland had a national 
Parliament How many people realize that, in 
the days of Grattan's Parliament, Protestants and 
Catholics united in the Orange stronghold of 


Derry to ce" ebrate the Williamite defence of that 
city of which we have heard so mucht In The 
Siege and History of Londonderry, edited by John 
Hempton, we find a significant account of the com- 
memoration festivities held in Derry in the year 
1788. One paragraph in especial shows that the 
Ulstermen of those days did not hate each other 
for their religious beliefs : 

**At four o'clock*' (runs the account) "the 
Mayor and Corporation, the Clergy, the Officers of 
the Navy and Army, the Roman Catholic Clergy, 
• • . etc., sat down to a plain but plentiful dinner 
in the Town Hall. . . . Religious dissensions, in 
particular, seemed to be buried in oblivion, and 
Roman Catholics vied with Protestants in ex- 
pressing, by every possible mark, their sense of 
the blessings secured to them by our happy Con- 
stitution, and 'the cordial part they took in the 
celebrations of this joyful day.'* 

All Ulstermen were Nationalists in those days. 
If Ulster did not develop along these lines of 
patriotism and tolerance, where can we lay the 
blame except on the Union and on the settled 
policy of Cabinet ministers in succeeding genera- 
tions? Occasionally, an English statesman has 
drawn back in horror from the Frankenstein's 
monster of civil hatred his predecessors have 
created But the traditional policy of Cabinets 


has been one of war on Irish patriotism and of 
rewards for Orange sectarianism. Few Ulster 
Unionist members have been allowed to go to 
their graves withont some mark of Government 
esteem. Mr. Lloyd George has bnt followed the 
tradition in heaping hononrs on the f omentors of 
anti-Irish strife. And yet he has the andadty to 
pretend that he finds Ulster an embarrassment I 
The tmth is Ulster is the Cabinet n4nister's 
"white hope.'' With the help of Ulster he will 
dare to continue an Imperialist policy which wonld 
otherwise be nniversally recognized to be out of 
date in those days of the Leagae of Nations. Only 
two States in Europe, I believe, now continue to 
call themselves Empires — ^the German and the 
British. And the British is the only one which 
claims to hold against its will a subject nation of 
white men. I confess I wish England and Ger- 
many would both abandon the name of Empire for 
that of Commonwealth. The denial of freedom, 
which seems normal in an Empire, would be seen 
to be an anomaly and an outrage in a Common- 
wealth. Apart from this^ does it not strike the 
average Englishman as an appalling fact that, in 
a war for liberty, while the defeated empires 
ended perforce by setting their subject nations 
free, the victorious British Empire alone, though 
it fought on the side of liberty, claims the right 
to k^ep its subject nation subject still t Some 
Sinn Feiners at the beginning of the war declared 


that Ireland conld be liberated only as a result of 
the defeat of the British Empire. Others of ns 
denied this. We said that an England victorionsly 
fighting for the right could be trusted to further 
Irish liberty better than a triumphant Germany. 
If Ireland is not given the same liberty as 
Bohemia, however, what argument is left to us 
of the pro- Ally faith f The ordinary Irishman 
will say that the history of the war proves that 
the only hope for a small subject nation lies in 
the defeat and overthrow of the empire of which 
it forms a part. Human nature being what it is, 
he will pray that wars may continue till Ireland 
is free. It is a terrible choice to thrust on a human 
being, if you tell him that the path to the liberty 
of his country necessarily lies through the disaster 
of a world-war. Yet what Englishman would not 
prefer a world-war rather than the destruction of 
English liberty? Surely it is possible to form a 
society of nations, each of which will feel that in 
preserving the peace of the world it is preserving 
its own freedom. In any case, we may be sure 
of one thing. No peace of nations whidi violates 
the liberty of even one nation can last. 

Luckily, more and more Englishmen have in 
recent years been coming to realize these things. 
They see that it is an outrage to pretend that 
Ireland alone among European countries has no 
right to be free. England has always been rich in 
chivalrous men, and a fine chivalry has lately 


modified the views on Ireland of many Unionists 
snch as Lord Henry Gavendish-Bentick and Ma- 
jor Hills, as well as those of liherals and Sodal- 
ists. In this matter chivalry coinddes with prae- 
tioal common-sense. Lord Northcliffe's campaign 
for making Ireland a dominion (with a difference) 
is the result not merely of sentimental but of 
statesmanlike considerations. His scheme is in 
some respects an advance on Asquithian Home 
Bnle. But it suffers from the defect that it implies 
that England has the right to impose on Ireland 
a settlement other than Ireland herself desires. If 
Ireland by a referendum chose the Northdiffe 
scheme, that would alter the situation entirely. 
Personally, I believe that the only thing for Eng- 
land to <lo is to put the Home Bule Act into im- 
mediate operation, hold an Irish general election, 
summon the Home Bule Parliament, and leave the 
Irish representatives themselves to hammer out a 
Constitution for their country, republican or 
colonial, according to the national will. The 
greatest service England can do to Ireland is to 
evacuate it. Then, if I may adapt a saying of 
Kettle's, the two countries will not only be free 
but be free to be f riends.*^ 

But someone may once again ask, what about 
Ulster t Well, Ulster may either come into the 
Irish Parliament and make terms or she may pre- 
fer a policy of passive resistance. First get the 
Irish national question settled, and we shall see. 




In any case, no Nationalist can, without deserting 
his principles, ask for the aid of English troops 
in compelling Ulster to make np her mind. And 
no Nationalist ev^r has, so far as I am aware, 
suggested the coercion of Ulster by British armed 
forces. Sane Irish Nationalists know that the 
happiness and unity of Ireland depend, not on the 
defeat of Ulster but on the persuasion of Ulster. 
They know, however, that the persuasion of Ulster 
will be impossible while the Lloyd Georges and the 
/ Bonar Laws incite Ulster to declare herself a 
separate nation. The persuasion of Ulster must 
in the first instance be begun by the two Front 
Benches in the House of Commons acting in 
unison. When British statesmen of all parties 
unite in a bona-fide declaration of Irish indepen- 
dence, the Ulster question will solve itself as if 
by a miracle. . . . And now, statesmen of Eng- 
land, the world waits. 


•> T- /^ "^ ^'^ 4^*^*'